A global Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), IPAS, has called on all state governments to domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act to reduce maternal mortality rate in the country.
Mrs Hauwa Shekarau, the Country Director of IPAS, made the appeal at the IPAS Nigeria ongoing annual Providers Network Conference with the theme: “Improving Collaboration among Providers’’ in Gombe state.
IPAS is a global NGO championing campaign for women sexual reproductive health and rights.
Shekarau explained that the VAPP Act, which was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, sought to end sexual violence and protect rights of survivors to receive comprehensive medical care.
She noted that, however, the Act covered only the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) when passed and assented to by the former president.
The IPAS chief said that some few states such as Kaduna, Ogun and Edo had domesticated the Act for the benefit of women in their states, while some are still in the process and others yet to begin.
“When all the states of the federation domesticate the VAPP, it will become easier for Ipas and other partners to implement the policies that improve women’s health and rights across the country thereby reducing the alarming rate of maternal mortality,’’ she said.
Shekarau said that the over 250 participants at the conference were drawn from Taraba, Adamawa, Jigawa, Abia, Ogun and Gombe States as well as the FCT.
She said the annual conference provided a forum for doctors, nurses, midwives, community leaders, the media, security agents and others to share ideas, experiences and challenges to enhance efficiency in women’s healthcare delivery.
The country director decried the situation where Nigeria recorded 800 to 1,100 deaths per 100,000 live births in the country, saying all hands must be on deck to find the way out.
Shekarau however commended the Federal Ministry of Health and some state ministries of health where Ipas was intervening for their cooperation.
Declaring the conference open, Dr Kennedy Ishaya, the state Commissioner for Health, commended Ipas for its tremendous support to improvement of health facilities and capacity building for health personnel in the state.
But Ishaya challenged Ipas and other stakeholders to come up with local policies on abortion which, he noted, was one of the major causes of maternal mortality rate in the country.
“I want to challenge Ipas and all of you here to come up with a local policy on abortion to help us curb thousands of death by women from unsafe abortion in the country. We cannot continue to rely on foreign policies on a sensitive issue like abortion when it is causing the death of women and girls in a number that is unacceptable,’’ the commissioner said.
Dr Wanonyi Kwala, who spoke on behalf of Taraba Government, commended Ipas for upgrading 31 health facilities and training over 70 health workers.
Kwala said that the health workers were trained to handle women sexual reproductive health issues including unavoidable abortions in Taraba.
On his part, Dr Masaratu Bakari, Adamawa Ministry of Health, described Ipas intervention in the state as wonderful.
The resource persons from the health sector took the participants through various aspects of women reproductive health and rights.
They also trained the participants on access to post-abortion care and use of contraceptives, among others.
AN reports that doctors, persons living with disability, Community-Based Organisations (CBOs), other NGOs, officials from federal and state ministries of health, the media and the police attended the conference.