UNFPA decries low budgetary allocation for family planning

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has expressed concern over the slash in the 2019 budgetary provision for family planning in Nigeria by 86 per cent.

Dr. Eugene Kongnyuy, the Country Representative of UNFPA in Nigeria, made the disclosure on Thursday in Abuja during a luncheon organised for media chief executives as part of the activities lined up for the celebration of UNFPA at 50 and International Conference for Population Development (ICPD) at 25.

Kongnyuy said that the worrisome development “practically means that by 2020, many Nigerians would be unable to have access to family planning services.”

He said that 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the landmark Programme of Action (PoA) at ICPD and that Nigeria was among the 179 countries that participated at the conference which took place in 1994 in Cairo, Egypt.

He said that the conference was regarded as one of the most significant global conferences ever held on population and sustainable development issues.

He further said that the PoA reaffirmed that all couples and individuals had the basic right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information, education and means to do so.

Kongnyuy said, “After sometimes, we are now seeing some changes.

“After agreeing that family planning is a human right, gender equality, ending maternal and infant mortality, we are now seeing polarization.’’

He said that currently, no fewer than 214 million women still had an unmet need for family planning.

He also said that available statistics show that 800 women die globally every day of maternal related issues, out of which 111 are Nigerians.

He said: “This is still unacceptable; the death was due to simple health system issue that we can easily correct, why will it keep recurring?

“Birth is a human right issue, and maternal mortality is a measure that indicates whether the health system is good or bad.

“Very high maternal mortality tells you that more people are dying.’’

Kongnyuy said that UNFPA started in 1967 as a Trust Fund within a UN system under the

UNDP, adding that donors put money to the agency for population activities.

“In 1969, 50 years now, the trust fund became full UN agency.
He said that the decision was taken after the UN recognized that the mandate of the fund became bigger, hence the need for the fund to transform to full-blown UN agency.

“In 1987, the name was changed from UN Fund for Population Activities to UN Population Fund,’’ he said.

Kongnyuy said that UNFPA was a UN sexual and reproductive right agency, with focus on the aspect of Health and Human Rights, promoting the sexual and reproductive health rights of women.

He further said that the agency was meant to ensure that every woman and man enjoyed equal rights and opportunities through specific focus on sexual and reproductive rights for adults and young people.

He said that the UNFPA worked and supported Nigeria in data generation, collation, analysis and dissemination, especially census and demographic health surveys.

He also listed other areas of support to include policies and programmes for gender and reproductive health, particularly maternal and newborn health.

The rest included family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, sexual and gender-based violence and promoting gender equality.

He restated the commitment of the agency to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with emphasis on health, gender equality, peace, justice and strong institutions, among others.

He called for improved partnership with key stakeholders, especially the media, to enable UNFPA to achieve its set vision.

Earlier, Mrs Kori Habib, thevMedia and Communication Specialist, UNFPA Nigeria, said that the event was organised to discuss issues concerning the unfinished business of ICPD PoA.
Habib said that the forum was also organised to solicit continued media support in terms of publicity for the two-anniversary celebrations and upcoming Nairobi Summit on ICPD. (NAN)

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