Executive director of the United Nations Population Fund Babatunde Osotimehin said Wednesday, “Giving life should not take a life,” citing the agency’s commitment to preventing childbirth-related deaths among women.
In talks with foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama, Osotimehin, on the second day of his high-level visit to Nigeria, said simple efforts as training health workers to provide services and giving women the chance to choose when to have babies could reduce maternal mortality. “With family planning and birth spacing, we can reduce maternal mortality by 30%,” he said.
The visit, along with a delegation from the UK Department for International Development, comes amidst concern that prevalence rate for contraceptive use and the funding for them has stalled in Nigeria despite programme to increase their use.
DFID funds nearly 60% of family planning commodities in public health sector, according to its estimates.
One concern is the fact that for these interventions, we cannot rely permanently on donors,” said Osotimehin.
“Government is committed to giving resources but there has to be a larger commitment where the government should plan to transit out of donor support over time.”
He suggested tapping into the resources and political will at state level to shore up support for life-saving interventions, rather than leave all funding and support to federal government.
Foreign affairs minister Onyeama pointed to the insurgency in the north east as eating into progress Nigeria has made in health and worsening food crisis.
He spoke of a presidential committee on northeast intervention coordinating the efforts of agencies working to provide assistance in the region.
“We have to now start being a lot more rigorous in cooperation between government and development partners,” said Onyeama. “But the big question is how effective can we make that coordination.”