Monthly Archives: March 2014

[Allie Doddy] Negotiated CPD Outcome Brings Opportunity to Advance Reproductive Health

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After several meetings and delayed decisions, it is official that there will be a negotiated outcome document at the 47th session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD). This is great news for sexual and reproductive health advocates, who now have a chance to push for strong language that puts women, their health, and their rights at the center of development.

Just now finding out about CPD? Here’s why you should care:

What is CPD?UNlogo

The Commission on Population and Development is a commission under the U.N. Economic and Social Council that is responsible for monitoring, reviewing and assessing the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). This year’s CPD is particularly important as 2014 is the 20th anniversary of the ICPD in Cairo—a watershed moment where women’s health and rights became essential to conversations about development, and resulted in the Programme of Action (POA) which set out to achieve, among other things, progress on family planning and reproductive health.

When and where is CPD?

This year’s CPD will be held from April 7-11 at the U.N. in New York.

What is a “negotiated” outcome document?

This means that countries (member states) will have to negotiate and eventually agree on the text for the outcome document. With a negotiated document, it is easier for civil society organizations engaged in the CPD meeting to see which countries are offering progressive language on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and which are blocking progress. A negotiated outcome document means more transparency; gives more opportunities for civil society groups to influence the outcome through seats on member delegations, or through influencing the delegation from their countries; and allows for the opportunity to advance the ICPD Programme of Action.

Why do these negotiations matter?

CPD is happening during the creation of the post-2015 development agenda. This year’s CPD outcome will feed into the U.N. Secretary General’s Index Report that will be adopted in September 2014 and help shape the next set of development goals. A negotiated outcome document from the CPD that has strong SRHR language will help to ensure women’s health and rights are prioritized within those goals, and that these issues are on the radar in countries around the world.

What’s next?

The theme of this year’s CPD is “Assessment of the Status of Implementation of the Programme Of Action of the ICPD” which gives member states the opportunity to reflect on the progress of the last 20 years, but also to determine what still needs to be done meet the reproductive health needs of women, men, girls, and boys. While the opportunity to have a negotiated outcome document is important, member states still need to agree on an outcome document that identifies how to address the unfinished business of the last 20 years, including providing universal access to family planning and reproductive health.

Investments in SRHR, including ensuring access to modern contraception, have improved maternal health, reduced child mortality, and had a significant positive impact on the quality of life for women and girls. Achieving the Programme of Action in full is key to improving women’s health and enhancing the status and rights of women and girls.

Reproductive health was almost left out of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) entirely. Eventually, a target was added under MDG 5 (5b), but that target—achieving universal access to reproductive health—is far from being achieved.  Having a strong CPD outcome document that feeds into the post-2015 agenda will help to make sure that SRHR is not left off the table again in 2015.

– See more at: http://www.populationaction.org/blog/2014/03/20/negotiated-cpd-outcome-brings-opportunity-for-reproductive-health-advocates/#sthash.f0ZSLJPG.dpuf

Allie is the International Advocacy Associate at ALL ACCESS.

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[Laz Ude Eze] A Journey to #BeatMalaria: My Scary Story

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While watching a news report  on African Independent Television (AIT) some months ago, I observed that the reporter, Nengi Fynecountry was reporting from a moving speedboat in Rivers State without putting on a life jacket. I was quite surprised. I didn’t waste time to question why Nengi should take such risk, using my social media platforms. I also recall that I advised my colleague in Adamawa State against traveling on water without wearing a life jacket. He had traveled for more than an hour on water on his way to Shelleng LGA where he provided supportive supervision on the Global Fund malaria project. But alas! On 5th March, 2014; I traveled on water without life jacket.

Before I share my story, please check out the cruel fate that befell some people who did similar thing in the past, as summarized in the following news reports;

One can go on-and-on, the list appears endless! Now, this is my story;

Good to take off!

Good to take off!

On the "high sea" without life jacket.

On the “high sea” without life jacket.

Ekeremor - here we are!

Ekeremor – here we are!

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The first time I traveled on water was during my visit to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, United States in October 2012. We cruised on a mini-ship. It was a fun-filled experience and I loved every bit of it. The second time was during my recent visit to Ekeremor in Bayelsa State. Before our trip, Yetunde (my colleague) and I made copious enquiries on the availability of life jackets during water travels in the state. We were given assurances that commercial boat operators usually provide life jackets for passengers. That afternoon, we embarked on the trip to Ekeremor to provide supportive supervision and help address their challenges on the malaria program. Both of us work on Global Fund Malaria Project with the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH). We drove for about two and a half hours from Yenagoa via Kaiama/Sagbama to Tuomo ‘River Port’ in Delta State. While boarding the boat in Tuomo, I asked for life jackets and was told, to my bewilderment, that there was none. The travel time was said to be less than an hour. My colleague initially didn’t want to go to Ekeremor because she’s got aquaphobia and lack floating/swimming skills. Going ahead was a tough decision; we really needed to get to Ekeremor to help resolve lots of issues. We had an uneventful 35-minute trip on a 75hp chartered speedboat. 

Ekeremor was a good sight to behold, quiet and cool. No car was sighted, but multiple commercial motorcycles were on hand to pick up passengers from the LGA Secretariat ‘boat stop’ to their respective destinations. We got our job done and were pleased with the outcome. But the sky was getting darker, it wasn’t night yet; it probably wanted to ‘shed some tears’. We set out on our return trip, this time, the boat had more passengers comprising of 12 persons of all age groups. At least 3 were children under-fiver years of age and 4 were women. After traveling for about 5 minutes, it started raining. We stopped in the middle of the river. I looked at the faces of co-passengers, Yetunde was very scared. Others were unruffled, obviously, they were used to such experience. A thick leather popularly called “tampolin” was used to cover everyone of us except the boat captain. The boat got dark, we couldn’t see anything clearly, not even each other’s faces. At some points, the boat got bouncing to break the river tides/waves. It appeared stormy at certain points. Shout of “hold am tight…hold am tight” was coming from the sailor, this was directed at co-passenger who were holding the leather firmly to the boat. Wrapped on the boat, it was quite stuffy; oxygen saturation of our immediate environment was no doubt reduced.

As our trip continued, news reports of boat mishaps came to mind. I imagined the worst and thought of what could be the fate of the children and passengers who can’t swim? Was I scared for my self, no I wasn’t. I believed I would be able to stay afloat or swim at least to the point one may get rescued. I was psychologically prepared for the worst but hoping for the best. And the best happened -> we sailed safely back to Tuomo Community. Thanks to mobile technology, I was providing updates on twitter while the trip was going on. My friends were shocked; because I had always told them that I will never travel on water without life jacket. But in this case, we took such risk becuase of the compelling need to #BeatMalaria in Bayelsa State and Nigeria at large.

About a week after our sojourn, this headline was in all major news channels, “18 Feared dead in Lagos Boat Mishap” ->  http://leadership.ng/news/354543/18-feared-dead-boat-mishap-festac-town-lagos. They too were not wearing life jacket. It could have been me, or anyone. What is the cost of a life jacket? I was told it costs about N5,000, could be a bit more or less. Why should we continuously be losing lives in such a preventable circumstance? Is it too difficult for the government of Bayelsa State to enact legislation, or where it exists enforce laws making it mandatory for life jackets to be made available and used by all persons who travel on water? What about Lagos, Rivers, Benue, Kogi, Niger, Adamawa, Ondo, and others? How many more people have to get drowned before this simple measure would be taken?

My office will be providing life jackets for our staff to utilize while traveling on water in Bayelsa and other states. I sincerely hope that the government and residents of riverine communities will take bold actions to prevent boat mishaps or deaths if it happens. This article by Frank Emeawaji Ogwuonuonu may be helpful -> http://www.thenewswriterng.com/?p=7360. May God continue to bless Nigeria as we work harder to #BeatMalaria. 

Tweet me @donlaz4u

Group Kicks As Ebonyi Shuns National Immunization Plus Days (NIPDs)

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A Press Statement by Health Equity Nigeria

Some of the common childhood killer diseases are pneumonia, measles, malnutrition, neonatal tetanus and tuberculosis. They are all avoidable and can be prevented through immunization and provision of nutritional supplements like Vitamin A. Other vaccine-preventable diseases include polio, whooping cough, hepatitis, diphtheria and neonatal tetanus.  Polio may have low mortality rate but can be very debilitating and prevents children and by extension societies from achieving their full potentials. 

Nigeria is one of the 3 countries in the world that is yet to eradicate polio virus; the other two are Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nigeria also one of the highest infant and under-five mortality rates globally. The federal government has made commitment to intensify efforts to eradicate polio in the country possibly by 2015. During National Immunization Plus Days (NIPDs), states provide counterpart funds to ensure the distribution and administration of vaccines to children in their homes or schools. This activity helps to provide herd immunity and protect the child from the vaccine-preventable diseases. It has been demonstrated to save lives of many children in Nigeria.

Our attention has been drawn to the non-participation of Ebonyi State in the on-going National Immunization Plus Days. The state is allegedly not interested in providing counterpart funding to facilitate the NIPD process. We are very concerned by this development as it would make Ebonyi children vulnerable to childhood killer diseases. It may also reverse the gains made so far in the effort of the Government of Nigeria to eradicate polio in the country. Although cases of polio are predominant in the northern part of the country, relocation of people from the crisis-ridden northeast to other parts of the country makes every state vulnerable.

More so, Ebonyi State has the highest cases of childhood malnutrition and performs low in many other health indices in the Southeast. Most of the residents of the state live in rural areas many of which lack access to orthodox health service delivery. Failure to participate in the NIPD will prevent many Nigerian children resident in Ebonyi State from getting immunized. This, in our opinion, is most unfair to the innocent children and dis-service to the country. 

We strongly encourage the Government of Ebonyi State to reconsider its position and act swiftly to save the children. We also call on the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu; who incidentally hails from the state; the State House of Assembly, National Assembly and all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the governor to do the needful as soon as possible in the interest of the country.  The human right of the Nigerian Child resident in Ebonyi State is being trampled upon by the state government. Time to ACT is NOW! May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Health Equity Nigeria (HEN) is a coalition of youth-led organizations in Nigeria. We believe that every Nigerian should have access to best possible quality of preventive and curative health care services no matter where the person lives or socioeconomic status. We use various media platforms to advocate for improved health access to ensure health equity in Nigeria.

 

Signed:

Dr Laz Ude Eze, MPH, CPH

Executive Team Lead, Health Equity Nigeria

Tweet us @healthequityng