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Osinbajo advocates strong healthcare system to meet gender-based violence survivors’ need

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[FILES] Dolapo Osinbajo


The wife of the Vice-President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, has advocated for strengthening of the nation’s healthcare system to meet the needs of survivors of gender-based violence and harmful practices.

Speaking at the UNFPA plenary session at the 37th scientific conference of the Association of Public Health Physicians, which ended at the weekend in Abuja, Osinbajo who condemned all forms of violence and abuse against women and girls, called for stiffer penalties against perpetrators of such acts.

She solicited the cooperation of all Nigerians to curb gender-based violence, adding that lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic seeks to address issues relating to better access to GBV services.

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Also speaking, outgoing Chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHAN), Prof. Benjamin Uzochukwu, called on all the states of the federation to put in place, a sex-offenders’ register to name and shame perpetrators of gender-based violence so as to end the impunity.

He also implored all the states yet to adopt the Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) act and Child Rights Act (CRA) to do so without further delay, to protect women and girls, adding that beyond the adoption of the laws, the Federal Government needs to strengthen law enforcement and awareness of the law around GBV.

Uzochukwu lamented that every day as health care professionals, they witness the negative consequences of GBV. He noted that gender-based violence is the longest-lasting pandemic in the world, adding that in Nigeria, GBV is widespread, as 30 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 years have reported experiences of sexual abuse while the COVID-19 pandemic has even compounded the problem.”

He said, “everyone should understand that violence against women and girls is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated. We call on every state government to establish and fund, at least, one GBV response centre and shelter with government-paid staff deployed and with effective linkages to other support services that survivors may need.”

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Uzochukwu urged the government to establishment of at least one forensic lab in each geopolitical zone in the country to support the prosecution of GBV.

“We call on the National Council on Health to declare free medical care for survivors of gender-based violence and assign a focal point for GBV in each health facility in Nigeria to help survivors navigate through health facilities in a timely manner. We recognise that as health care professionals, we are central to the response to gender-based violence. Health care workers are often the earliest point of contact for GBV survivors.”

In her remarks, Ms. Ulla Mueller, Country Representative UNFPA, emphasised the need for engagement of medical practitioners in meeting the needs of Gender Based Violence survivors.

Mueller, represented by Ms Erica Goldson, Deputy Country Representative, UNFPA tasked public health physicians to champion the war against GBV. She described GBV as a threat to national development and impediment to women and girls’ growth.

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