An international Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Sightsavers Nigeria has called for inclusive sexual health and improved access to family planning services for People with Disabilities (PWDs).
Ms Joy Tarbo, Communications Associate, Sightsavers, made the call in a statement in Abuja in commemoration of the World Contraception Day celebrated every Sept. 26.
The day is marked to spread awareness about contraception and to help couples make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.
Tarbo said that evidence revealed that West Africa had the lowest rates of contraception use in the world, some of the highest maternal death and morbidity rates.
According to her, women and adolescent girls with disabilities in Nigeria face multiple forms of discrimination and barriers in accessing family planning services and contraceptives.
She said: “They also face significant barriers with regards to free and informed choice and experience a higher risk of forced and coerced sterilisation and contraception.”
Dr. Joy Shu’aibu, Director, Programme Operations in Nigeria, Sightsavers, while calling for improved healthcare services, decried stigmatisation and poor access to sexual and reproductive health services for PWDs.
“We are using the World Contraception Day to highlight the need for sexual and reproductive health services to be inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities.
“Sexual and reproductive health and rights are basic human rights. They are not only an integral part of the right to health but are also necessary to enjoy the rights to life, information and freedom from discrimination.
“Everyone should have access to safe, informed healthcare services without barriers, but sadly this is still not the case.”
Shuaibu revealed that the organisation was leading an inclusive family planning project under the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) “Inclusive Futures Consortium”.
She said that the project aimed at improving access to family planning for PWDs in Kaduna State and other Hausa-speaking communities, by working directly with women-led representative disability organisations.
Hajiya Nafisa Musa Isa, Family Planning Coordinator, Kaduna State Primary Health Care Board, noted the positive impact of inclusive healthcare.
“It is important that PWDs are not left behind in healthcare. If we neglect them, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be almost impossible.”
“They have the right to access information and services needed to support their choices and optimise health, right to decide the number and spacing of their children, right to consent to marriage and equality in marriage.
“They also have the right to be free from sexual violence and right to enjoy scientific progress and consent to experimentation,” she said.
Sightsavers Nigeria in collaboration with Women’s Integrated Sexual Health (WISH) programme in West Africa, Options Nigeria advocates for the Kano State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (KSCHMA) to prioritise the sexual and reproductive health needs of PWDs.