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DevCom Network teams-up with media to address gender health issues

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

The Development Communication Network has reiterates its commitment to continue to work with the media and urges practitioners to continue to raise awareness on sexual reproductive health.

Program Director of DevCom, Akim Jomoh, says he is proud to be involved with an organization focused on raising awareness about the issues of over population in Nigeria.

He says, currently, it has over 13 states and more than 300 networks of journalists, and their work has been able to reach millions of Nigerians with information that can literally help to reduce women and girls’ SRH associated vulnerabilities. 

He said, 26th of every September is the World Contraception Day {WCD}, and this year’s theme being ‘Be Safe Not Sorry,’ which envisions that every pregnancy in the world should be planned.

 “World Contraception Day” is centered on improving awareness of contraception, in order to enable young people – most especially women and girls – make informed decisions with their sexual and reproductive health.

“The need to empower young people in Nigeria to take charge of their reproductive and sexual health is important as, in almost all societies in the world, there is an increase in sexual activities among young persons,” he stated.

The program director explained further that, this might lead to unplanned pregnancies, which oftentimes lead to abortions which sometimes end in a tragedy such as death or loss of ability to give birth.

Mr. Jomoh said, this year’s event was also an opportunity to address the challenges of women and girls in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said, according to World Bank data (2020), women and girls make up about 49% of the total population in Nigeria. This implies that, for gender equality to be achieved there is the need for half the population of the country to be prioritized. 

The DevCom’s director observed that, “Communities with access to sexual and reproductive health services and information historically have been known to delay childbearing in times of fiscal uncertainty such as the COVID pandemic presented. 

“However, several literatures present an increase in unplanned pregnancies during the outbreak of the pandemic due to a gap in knowledge by many, as well as heightened barriers occasioned by the COVID restrictions,” he noted.

According to Akim Jomoh, “Pro-activeness of government and partners in providing women with options to access quality and convenient Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services even in uncertain times as this can address this gap.”

Speaking also, Deputy Team Leader, Roselyn Odeh, while delivering ‘Innovation for Self-Care with Society for Family Health,’ said “Many Nigerian women and girls still face extreme poverty, and many still do not have access to information and, therefore, not aware of their SRH rights and how to maintain their sexual and reproductive health.”

According to her, knowledge of SRH self-care approaches can improve SRH outcomes. When women are knowledgeable about options to prevent unplanned pregnancies, their practice of rights and choices are enhanced.

She said, with regards to reproductive health and family planning, the drive towards creating awareness and demand on certain self-care options like the (DMPA-SC) self-injectable method of family planning provides an opportunity to address some of the issues women face pertaining to SRH rights.

She explained that, “This is because the option presents women with a family planning method that they can learn to use themselves and at their convenience. It is easily accessible and can be self-administered as a method. DMPA-SC provides three months of protection from unplanned pregnancy.

“Women and girls deserve access to quality and accurate information on safe, effective, affordable, and acceptable contraception of choice, and it is no doubt that a major approach to addressing SRH vulnerabilities of women and girls is to make available modern SRH supplies, including contraceptives/family planning, menstrual health, and hygiene commodities,” she stated.

“These items are central to adolescent girls’ and women’s health, empowerment, and the exercise of their sexual and reproductive health rights,” she said.

According to her, there is a need for sustainable media engagement of all stakeholders to address the vulnerabilities revolving around SRH challenges faced by women and girls, in order for them to live healthy lives.

She said, “This will enable women to practice optimal self-care as regards their SRH, especially in the time where the COVID pandemic has put so much pressure on health care systems and impacted the provision of other essential health care services.”

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