“Issues of maternal mortality have not improved in this country for 40 years…”
The Executive Director, United Nations Fund for Population Activity, UNFPA, Babatunde Osotimehin, on Thursday said Nigeria needed to invest more on maternal mortality to save lives of women.
Mr. Osotimehin, a professor, stated this when he visited the Chairman, Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, Martin-Luther Agwai, in Abuja.
According to him, increased investment in maternal health will reduce the number of women who die in the course of child birth.
“Issues of maternal mortality have not improved in this country for 40 years because we have not been consistent in investment that should get to women. The commitment that government made at the Family Planning Conference in London in 2012 was to actually add to the commitment they had already made on issues of commodities to save lives of women.
“But what we find is that we have not received the resources to provide the commodities to save lives of women,” he said.
He disclosed that Uganda made commitment of $5 million a year and had been consistent with it.
He explained that the measure had led to the drop in maternal mortality in the country, because women were now being reached.
“If we do not invest in the lives of women and girls in Nigeria it will be difficult to attain such level,’’ he stated.
Mr. Osotimehin said that the biggest problems African nations had in curbing maternal mortality was early marriage.
According to him, they get pregnant at the age of 12 and eventually die and we are not taking appropriate steps to stop this problem.
He therefore appealed to SURE-P to prioritise maternal mortality issues in the face of competing demands for its resources.
He said that given its lean resources, UNFPA only intervened in countries with evidence that the government was doing something.
In his response, the SURE-P chairman disclosed that the programme had released N100 million for maternal health-related projects, this year.
Mr. Agwai, who was represented by SURE-P’s Deputy Chairman, Omotanwa Olusi, said that the organization was determined to provide more resources for health projects before the end the year.
:Last year, we were able to give N300 million as part of the money promised in London and our budget this year has been cut. We have been able to release N100 million again and before the end of the year, we will see what happens.
“If we are able to get more funds we will release more money before the end of the year for you to kick start again this year,’’ he said.