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UNFPA at 50: Private sectors call for more collaboration to achieve SDGs

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Captains of industry have called for more collaboration between government agencies and private sector players in influencing enabling policies as well as the implementation of laws that pertain to women, youth, population and poverty eradication to ensure attaining the SDGs.

The stakeholders who gathered at the headquarters of Access Bank Plc on Tuesday as parts of activities commemorating the 50th anniversary of the United Nation Population Fund agreed that there is the need to strengthen capacities of research institutions through collaborative efforts.

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This they said will help provide evidence-based policies that enhance the health of women and adolescent girls, especially in humanitarian settings and underserved groups.

Earlier in his remark, Country Representative of the UNFPA, Eugene Kongnyuy said the theme of the summit; “Sustainable Population Growth, Demographic Dividend and the Future of Nigeria: The Role of the Private Sector” is meant to address Nigeria’s Sustainable Population and the huge role the private sector must play in achieving the SDGs.

He defined Sustainable Population as the rate at which the number of inhabitants of a given area can increase without overburdening the area’s economic, social, and natural resources, saying Nigeria’s growing population which is not corresponding with the GDP must be addressed to avoid a future disaster.

“Latest statistics shows that Nigeria has an annual population growth of 3.2%, but a GDP growth of 2%. With an estimated population of 198 million and a dependency ratio of 98%, and 64% of the population below the poverty line, it is imperative that drastic steps must be taken, not just by the government, but private sectors player too must be involved,” he said.

According to him, if Nigeria is to achieve the SDGs, especially the health SDGs the private sector should play a key role in collaboration with government and development partners, to address the challenges of inadequate health infrastructure, inadequate Equipment, inadequate Human Resources for Health, weak supply chain Management for Medicines and many other factors.

In her own contribution, Head of Sustainability at Access Bank which hosted the summit, Mrs. Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan expressed the confidence that the summit will serve as a veritable platform to bring the much-needed collaboration for Nigeria to achieve the SDGs.

According to her, Access Bank Plc is honoured to have hosted the summit, adding that it is part of the bank’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of which the UNFPA has been in the forefront in the last 50 years.

Also speaking at the one-day summit, former Commissioner of Health in Lagos state, Dr. Jide Idris commended the UNFPA and Access Bank for their steadfast commitment in fighting the cause of women, youths and young girls.

Dr. Idris however, urged participants at the summit to come out with strategies on how to best tackle the issue of gender based violence and reproductive health, adding that government cannot do it alone with the support of the private sector in the country.

The panelists at the summit all agreed that partnership with local authorities is key in scaling up primary health care centres in residential vicinity to ensure more women have access to care during and after pregnancy.

The panelists which included representatives from Oando Foundation, Coca-Cola Plc, Microsoft, Tolarams Group, West African Gas Pipelines Company, Merck, Pharm Access Foundation, DKT, HACEY Health Initiative, Lagos Business School, Access Bank Plc, Chevron, Nigerian Breweries, and UNICEF, Ondo state government and several civil society bodies also resolved to work in synergy in achieving UNFPA goals in Nigeria.

The panellists at the end of the summit resolved to use their with government parastatals and political contacts to ensure there are reviews, amendment and implementation of laws that pertain to women, youth, population and poverty eradication to ensure attaining the SDGs.

They also discussed ways of partnering with local health authorities to support scaling-up primary health care centres in residential vicinity to ensure more women access to care during and after pregnancy, among many other decisions.

The UNFPA was created as a trust fund in 1967 by the United Nations, it, however, became a full subsidiary of the UN General Assembly in 1969 and is being administered by the UNDP. The name was officially changed to United Nations Population Fund in 1987.

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