Rising from its strategic meeting and training workshop, Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria (NRHJN), a non-governmental organisation, has called on government at levels to improve reproductive healthcare in the country.
The Network made up of Nigerian journalists advocating for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) issues and policies , made the call during its strategic meeting and training workshop,held in Ibadan, Oyo State recently.
According to a communique issued at the end of the meeting and jointly signed by the President and Secretary of the Network, Mr Roland Ogbonnaya and Mrs. Yinka Shokunbi respectively, the Network said the state of reproductive health care in the country was below acceptable standard.
Consequently,the Network expressed dissatisfaction that government at the Federal and state levels were not doing enough to improve the situation.
Reproductive health according to Wikipedia, implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safer sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.
The Network revealed that Nigeria is in a demographic crisis as a result of poor investment in family planning tools/services and health infrastructure.
Lamenting the poor state of health facilities in the country, the NGO noted that the worrisome situation had denied women access to healthcare apart from imposing huge economic burden on Nigerians when seeking healthcare.
The Network regreted that state governments have abandoned their responsibility especially as it involves the provision of Primary Health Care services, leaving this burden to the Federal Government despite the fact that health care falls under the concurrent list of the 1999 constitution as amended.
It noted: “Women have been denied access to contraceptive services which is a breach of their fundamental human rights. The Network frowns at the low use of modern contraceptives which has resulted in a large population burden and has led to a strain on development and allocation of resources.”
Besides,the Network kicked against the expanded US Global Gag Rule (GGR) introduced by President Donald Trump and observed that it portends adverse consequences and devastating effects on the health of women and girls in Nigeria.
It stated that as a result of the GGR, more Nigerian women were losing access to contraception while more incidences of unintended and unwanted pregnancies, abortions and unsafe abortions and deaths of women were being recorded
It therefore, urged religious and traditional leaders to help debunk myths and misconceptions around family planning while promoting its acceptance.
The Network also enjoined medical and health personnel in the country to be committed towards reducing the stigma around abortion especially as it is a factor in the high rate of deaths resulting from unsafe abortion practices.
Furthermore,the group called on the federal government to respond to Trump’s GGR by investing more in health and taking advantage of family planning as a development strategy to save billions in scarce resources and reduce poverty.
It also urged the federal government to utilize monies recovered from corrupt persons in providing access to healthcare, especially at the grassroots for women and children.
Additionally,the Network enjoined the federal government to be more committed to the health of women by protecting their health and promoting the rights issue.
On why the government should be more committed to healthcare provision,the NGO explained that putting money in health and human infrastructure is an investment not expenditure.