BY ERNEST PIUS, Abuja
As the world marks the 2021 World Population Day, the National Population Commission (NPC), in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has haroed on the need for protection of women to take decision on their sexual and reproductive health.
The Executive Chairman of NPC, Hon Nasir Isa Kwarra, made the call during a press conference to mark 2021 World Population Day, with the themed: “Rights and Choices are the Answer: Whether baby boom or bust, the solution to shifting fertility rates lie in prioritising all people’s reproductive health and rights” in Abuja.
Kwarra, who was represented by the federal commissioner, representing Kano State in the commission, Dr Suleiman Is’maila, said that Nigeria, besides being rated as the most populous nation in Africa, is also named the country of the young and of women of reproductive age.
According to him: “The onset of COVID reversed gains made and the interrupted our national efforts at making progress to address these challenges. It exposed the frailty of our health care systems and dismantled all the structure and arrangements for equitable access to sexual and reproductive health care services.
“The situation got worse during the lock-down, which we are still battling to emerge from. Issues highlighted by the theme, presents an urgent call to action, to place these concerns at the centre of policy decisions and actions across all spectrum of governance and leadership.
“It also calls for a united commitment and from all stakeholders to ensure Nigeria does not experience Baby Boom and continuous Gender Based Violence. Prioritizing Reproductive Health and Rights of all People for Nigeria, particularly women, young people and girls, will reduce the predicted impact and pave way for us to achieve a demographic transition.
“The National Population Commission sees this as an opportunity, a responsibility and a call to duty by all of us here today to ensure women’s rights are protected Promoted and guaranteed: 25 well as creating opportunities to allow them make choices that will enhance their wellbeing and enable them lead productive lives,” he said.
In her remarks, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), resident representative, Ulla Elizabeth Mueller, was represented by country deputy representative, Erika Goidson, said the disruption by COVID-19 has provoked alarmist concern about baby boom or busts.
“But the real cause for concern comes when people cannot exercise their sexual and reproductive rights and choices because of disruptions in the health services.
“The pandemic may influence choices but the right to decide when and if to have family does not change. The COVID19 pandemic has compromised health care systems particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive health”.