…Maternal, infant mortaliy still high
Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
The Chairman, Ebonyi State House of Assembly Committee on Health, Maazi Oliver Osi, has raised the alarm over the increasing rate of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and high rape cases in most communities in the state.
He lamented that despite the campaigns staged against such ugly practices by the state government, Non-Governmental Organisations, and concerned individuals, the scourge has continued to rise.
Osi, who represents Ivo constituency in the state legislature rose the alarm during a one-day training workshop for media practitioners on gender based violence, sexual reproductive health right, and advocacy organized by Coalition of Eastern NGOs (CENGOS) in partnership with Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) with the support of Amplify Change in Abakaliki, the state capital.
He also lamented the soaring rate of infant and maternal mortality in the state which according to him, has impacted negatively on the socioeconomic development of the state.
“So many women are still dying during childbirth in Ebonyi State. I am in the system and I know what I am saying. Many women, when they get pregnant, they go to patient medicine shop operators to mix drugs for them.
“There is no weekend in this state that many people don’t travel home to participate in burial ceremonies in their various communities. And when you check the ages of these people so buried, they are mostly young people.
“Despite the campaigns against female genital mutilation, many people in this environment still practice it. They go to the backyard to engage in that obnoxious cultural practice”, he lamented.
A Consultant Gynaecologist at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA), Dr Joseph Agboeze, while presenting a paper on the topic: Overview of Reproductive Health, Women Sexual and Reproductive Rights, described reproductive health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or disorder of the reproductive process.
He said that Ebonyi State has the highest rate of female genital mutilation among the states in the South East even as he listed other traditional harmful practices to include early marriage, widowhood rites and widows’ right infringement and female disinheritance.
Earlier, the State Coordinator of CENGOS, Mrs. Nancy Oko-Onya who welcomed the participants to the event stressed on the need for the rights of women to be protected. She warned that violence against women should not be swept under the carpet but publicized in order to checkmate its frequent occurrences in society.