To improve reproductive healthcare in the country, Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria (NRHJN), a non-governmental organisation, has tasked government at levels to increase its investment in the area.
The demand came after a strategic meeting and training workshop of the Network which its members are Nigerian journalists that campaign for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) issues and policies.
According to a communique issued at the end of the meeting which held in Ibadan, Oyo State recently 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.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines reproductive health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
The world health body further states; “Reproductive health addresses the reproductive processes, functions and system at all stages of life.
“Reproductive health, therefore, implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.”
NRHJN regretted that Nigeria is in a demographic crisis as a result of poor investment in family planning tools/ services and health infrastructure.
Bemoaning 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.
It also lamented 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.”
NRHJN further faulted 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.
Decrying the impact of the GGR, the network said that 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.
The group therefore, urged religious and traditional leaders to help debunk myths and misconceptions around family planning while promoting its acceptance.
NRHJN also urged 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.
Similarly, 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 further urged the federal government to utilize monies recovered from corrupt persons in providing access to healthcare, especially at the grassroots for women and children.
The Network also 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.
“Government at the Federal and State levels should be more committed to protecting women’s health and promoting the rights issue, while appreciating that putting money into health and human infrastructure is an investment not expenditure.”