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End discrimination, ensure health for all – UNFPA

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has called for an end to discrimination to ensure the right to health for all.

The Executive Director of UNFPA Dr Natalia Kanem made the call in a statement issued by Mr Adewole Ajao, the Communication Analyst of UNFPA Nigeria Country Office in Abuja.

According to her, the call was in commemoration of the 2024 World Health Day (WHD), annually observed on April 7 to raise awareness about global health issues.

The global observance day is celebrated on the anniversary of the founding day of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and has “My Health, My Right” as the theme for 2024.

The analyst quoted the UNFPA boss as saying “the commemoration is also a celebration of the successes achieved since the adoption of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action in Cairo.”

She said that the programme placed sexual and reproductive health and rights at the heart of development.

“Since the ICPD, more women enjoy the right to health. More women have access to modern contraceptives. Fewer women are dying in pregnancy and childbirth and teen pregnancy rates have fallen.

“However, many women and girls have been left out of that progress. Even as we accelerate efforts to fulfil the promise of the ICPD and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), healthier lives remain out of reach for many people, especially underserved communities.”

Dr Kanem added that although the global average maternal mortality rate has declined significantly in the past three decades, a woman still dies every two minutes due to preventable pregnancy and childbirth-related complications.

She said deaths occur at much higher rates in poorer countries, with the lifetime risk of maternal death put at one in 49 in low-income countries, compared to one in 5,300 in high-income countries.

She said that discrimination contributes to poor maternal health, even in better-off countries.

“Maternal death rates are higher among communities that continue to confront racial and other prejudices in everyday life.

“UNFPA research finds women of African descent in the Americas, more vulnerable to mistreatment and neglect by healthcare providers.

“It’s time to end the discrimination and exclusion that women, in all diversities, continue to experience when they seek sexual and reproductive healthcare.

“Justice and equality will only be possible when healthcare systems provide everyone access to respectful, compassionate and quality care.”

Kanem, therefore, urged the world to uphold the rights of all people to reach the highest possible standard of health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence.

“Let us champion sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, as the path to a sustainable future where everyone can realise their potential,” she appealed.

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