Foundation urges FG on inclusion of reproductive health in SDGs

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Photo: steadyhealth

As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is winding down to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on September 1st, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Education as a Vaccine (EVA) has urged the Federal Government for the inclusion of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) of young people in the new SDGs.

Key amongst the targets is Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) targets under the health (goal 3) and gender equality (goal 5) goals. Sadly, these targets do not explicitly mention adolescents and young people.

Nevertheless, the global development framework presents an opportunity to make advancements on the health and development of young people.

Speaking at a workshop organised by EVA in Abuja, Executive Director, Fadekemi Agarau said the stance taken on behalf of Nigeria during the process of creating these new goals could endanger this opportunity.

She stated that according to the 2013 National Demographic Health Survey, maternal mortality stands at 576 deaths per 100,000 live births and adolescents and young people account for almost 50 per cent of these deaths.

“With these alarming statistics, one would expect Nigeria to consistently advocate for more actions to improve the health and development of adolescents and young people. Unfortunately, this is not the case.”

She added that the representative of the Nigerian government, Amb. Seriki said all references to sexual and reproductive health in the SDGs document do not apply to young people, stressing that this position denies young people access to sexual and reproductive health including HIV/AIDS information, education, counselling and services.

Agarau said: “This clearly contradicts over six progressive national policies, plans and guidelines available in the country. Policies and plans developed by several Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) including the Federal Ministries of Health, Education, Youth Development and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS.”

According to her, “the implication of this retrogressive stance include young people’s health and development will be de-prioritized, which doesn’t align with the “change” agenda of the new government, and also does not reflect the current realities of our country with high maternal mortality, teen birthrate, and HIV/AIDS mortality.”

She explained that the negative perceptions of Nigeria internationally due to inconsistencies in positions taken during negotiations on social issues with our national policies, noting that reduction or outright withdrawal of financial and technical resources from different stakeholders for the improvement of the health and development of young people after 2015.

The organisation, however, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to uphold Nigeria’s progressive policies by mandating the Nigerian negotiators to not register a written reservation with references to young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights at the plenary session of the 69th General Assembly to be held on Tuesday, September 1st 2015, noting that the government should adopt the global development agenda at the Heads of States Summit in New York from September 25 to 27, 2015.

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