Plateau govt. bans Eid prayers as COVID-19 cases spikeBy Peter Duru, Makurdi

The National Population Commission, NPC, has disclosed that over over 80 percent of Nigerian who are mostly women have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent economic paralysis occasioned by the lockdown.

The NPC Federal Commissioner for Benue State, Mrs. Patricia Kupchi made this known when the state office marked the 2020 World Population Day in Makurdi with the theme ‘Putting the Brakes on COVID-19: How to Safeguard the Health and Rights of Women and Girls now.”

Represented by the State Director, Mr. Stephen Tsemende, the Commissioner lamented that the pandemic had created noticeable increase in gender-based violence even as more girls would also likely drop out of school as a result of the closure of schools.

According to Mrs. Kupchi who stood in for the acting Chairman of NPC, Dr. Eyitayo Oyetunji, the pandemic had also made it difficult for women to access and utilize reproductive health facilities.

“The pandemic has led to a lockdown, which has paralyzed economic activities in both formal and informal sectors and the implication includes the loss or reduction of household incomes, government revenue and attendant ability to meet statutory responsibilities.

“For example, the informal sector employs about 80 percent of Nigerians, and is mainly made of daily paid workers who were worse hit by the Iockdown.

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“It is pertinent to mention that because most women in Nigeria are employed in the informal sector, the COVID l9 lockdown has impacted more negatively on them than their male counterparts,” she said.

In addition Mrs. Kupchi said, “according to the UN Secretary General, compounded economic impacts are felt especially by women and girls who are generally earning less, saving less, and holding insecure jobs or living close to poverty.

“Related to the issue of poverty, is the nutrition status of the woman. Good nutrition is fundamental for good health of mother and child.

“Nutrition is among the causes of anemia, and anemia is a major concern among women, leading to increased maternal mortality and poor birth outcomes as well as reductions in work productivity.

“Over half (58%) of women age 15-49 have some degree of anemia. Twenty-eight percent each are mildly anemic and moderately anemic, and 2% are severely anemic (NFC and ICF, 2019). The COVID-l9 may have led to higher proportion of malnourished women, girls and children.

“COVID-19 did not make it easy for women to access and utilize reproductive health facilities especially as the logistics of getting to health facilities were negatively impacted. This situation could have worsened the already high maternal mortality rate of 556 (CI: 484-029) deaths per 100,000 live births.

“The likely effect of the COVID l9 pandemic on the delivery of contraceptives is better imagined. Already Nigeria is experiencing low contraceptive prevalence rate and unmet needs.

“The contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) for modern method is 12% for married women, while for sexually active unmarried women, only 28% are using a modem method.

“The unmet needs for family planning are as high as 20% in some parts of the country. The implication of limited access to commodities and services includes higher level of STIs due to unprotected sex, unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal mortality and unwanted pregnancies,” she added.

Vanguard

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