The Coordinator of the Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development and Emir of Argugungu, Alhaji Samaila Muhammad Mera, has urged governments at all levels to increase efforts in curtailing maternal mortality in Nigeria.
He made the call in Kaduna after a one-day review meeting with the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Ending Violence against Women and Girls in Northern Nigeria organized by the foundation in conjunction with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The emir stated that the review was to look into the progress made by the foundation on gender issues affecting the northern states, adding that issues like early marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early drop-outs from school were hindering the progress of northern Nigeria.
He noted that instead of sending figures of those who died while giving birth to health agencies, the committee had resolved to publish their names quarterly or annually.
He added that this was being done to bring the attention of political leaders to do more in tackling maternal mortality in the country.
“This meeting is to review some of the work we have been doing with the United Nations Population Fund in the areas of education, health and gender violence in northern Nigeria.
“The program on health looks at the level of maternal mortality while we have another program looking at gender inequality and gender violence. We are unearthing ways to sustain this program and examine the progress we have achieved so far,” he said.
Earlier, the Assistant Representative, Reproductive Health, UNFPA, Dr. Audu Alayande, said Nigeria had the largest number of child brides in Africa, and also accounts for the third highest number of women and girls who have undergone female genital mutilation.
“All these harmful practices occur in the context of limited knowledge and access to reproductive health information and services with complications of early child bearing and obstructed labour such as obstetric fistula. All these are impediments to sustainable development,” he said.