As the world continues to battle the outbreak of COVID-19, a family planning expert has called for actions to sustain progress made in sexual and reproductive health as well as the need to check unintended pregnancies, reduce maternal deaths, and population explosion.
Speaking during a webinar on the 2020 World Population Day with the theme “Sustaining Sexual and Reproductive Health during COVID-19 Pandemic”, the Country Director, Pathfinder International, Nigeria, Dr. Amina Dorayi, said there is need to ensure the pandemic does not become a setback in the successes recorded in improving access to sexual and reproductive health services worldwide and Nigeria in particular.
Dorayi noted that reproductive health services were essential to the overall wellbeing of children and families, and not just women and girls.
She said the current COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of challenges to the floor and in Nigeria, directly or indirectly related to the population under development.
“Also, we know that the security situation is also a challenge, and we know that this is directly or indirectly related to population challenge.
“Another major one is rape and gender-based violence we are facing currently, and all these coupled with the weak health structures.
“If we do not take action to safeguard the rights, health of women, and vulnerability during this pandemic, a lot will be witnessed in the future.’’
She said that the COVID-19 crisis had taken a struggling turn on people and also the economy.
“The supply chain around the world is being disrupted and this affects the availability of contraceptive services, heightens the risk of pregnancies and also countries have also been in total or partial lockdown.
“So, the health system is struggling to cope with these demands, and the services that are not COVID-19 services are being sidelined. All these issues cause a lot of challenges that could affect the population going forward.”
Dorayi stressed the need to mobilise political will and resources to address population issues and set the pace for a very vibrant future for all of us.
“We all know that the global population has a great impact on development and this is particularly so in developing countries, especially the country like Nigeria. The young people population far surpasses that of the productive age group.
“We know that the productive age group is those that kind of work to gain economic benefits for the rest of the population.
Noting that Pathfinder International has been in Nigeria for about 55 years, she said globally they are working to increase access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as promote healthy pregnancies.”
“In Pathfinder International, we are also trying to integrate health and environment work to address the holistic need of communities, at least, the most vulnerable populations including those who have been displaced due to conflict.
“We collaborate closely with partners around the world to offer life-saving maternal and newborn care. In Nigeria, we were one of the first organizations to provide technical assistance to the communities to strengthen the demand for sexual and reproductive health services.
During this period of the pandemic, we have continued to work with local institutions and the media to play a key role in ensuring there is access to sexual and reproductive health services and also funding. We need to be sure we maintain these services,” she said.