Experts in the health sector have enjoined the federal government and other stakeholders to pay more attention to sexual and reproductive health during COVID-19 and other public health emergencies response and recovery processes.
They made the call yesterday during a panel discussion organised by Pathfinder International at the 37th annual general meeting and scientific conference of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria in Abuja.
Dr Amina Dorayi, Country Director, Pathfinder International Nigeria, said there is need to recognize the central role reproductive health and family planning plays on the individual and community, adding “When we don’t pay enough attention or support to sexual and reproductive health, everything suffers.”
She said, “At every level and in every situation, especially now during this pandemic, we must create time, resources and opportunities to respond to the needs of every individual, and by extension the community.
“We must not derail resources from the essential sexual and reproductive health services in the response to either an epidemic or pandemic
“We must maintain a certain health system proactiveness to sexual and reproductive health whether we are in a pandemic or not.”
She said Pathfinder International Nigeria in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, trained health workers to strengthen their capacity to respond to the pandemic.
She said some things government should have done differently during the pandemic include, effective use of SMS, better collaboration with traditional rulers and building trust with the community.
A youth advocate, Emitomo Nimisire, said an effctive strategy for pandemic response must include gender-responsive and youth-friendly policies.
Alhassan Yahaya, Chairman, Advocacy Working Group (AWG) said the media was utilized in creating awareness on family planning and other reproductive health measures during the pandemic.
Dr Ibrahim Alhassan, Director Public Health, Nasarawa State Ministry of Health, said the economic status of the populace should be factored into measures such as lockdowns to achieve the desired response.