Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, representing Kogi Central senatorial district, has called on the federal government to prioritize maternal healthcare in its budget to address the alarming rate of deaths during childbirth.
The senator made this appeal during the 2024 Budget Defence/Interactive Session between the Senate Committee on Women Affairs and the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye.
During the session, Senator Natasha scrutinized the proposed budget and expressed concerns about the allocation of funds to projects seemingly unrelated to women’s issues. She highlighted projects such as classroom construction in Kano, mosque rehabilitation in Zamfara, and street lights in Anambra, questioning their relevance to addressing women’s concerns.
“Maternal mortality today, according to the World Health Organization, stands at 1,047 out of 100,000 live births. That is data generated from urban areas where research is easily conducted. In factual consideration of rural areas, the figure would triple more,” Senator Natasha emphasized.
The senator shared the challenges faced by women in her constituency, citing the lack of access to quality healthcare services in rural communities. She stressed that women in Kogi Central face difficulties in obtaining emergency medical services, resulting in a significant number of maternal deaths daily.
“Instead of roads and street lights, we want functional primary healthcare centers in rural communities with incubators and ambulances… even if it’s a tricycle just like India,” she asserted.
Senator Natasha also underscored the need for synergy between the Ministry of Women Affairs and the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency. She urged collaboration with other relevant agencies to address the multifaceted challenges facing women in Nigeria.
Highlighting women entrepreneurship support, Senator Natasha mentioned the African Development Bank’s program called AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa), which allocates $1 billion in approved funding for lending to African women entrepreneurs.
Assuring the Minister of Women Affairs of support, Senator Natasha pledged to collaborate with her colleagues to ensure that the budget aligns with key priorities, including girl child education, addressing violence against women, maternal mortality, gender equity, and creating opportunities for female entrepreneurs.
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