The Public hearing of the Oyo State Family Planning, Reproductive Health and Maternal Services Bill, 2017

According to World Health Organization(WHO) Sexual and reproductive health and rights encompass efforts to eliminate preventable, maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity, to ensure quality sexual and reproductive health services including contraceptive services, and to address sexually transmitted Infections (STI) and cervical cancer, violence against women and girls and sexuality and reproductive health needs of adolescents.

The Public hearing of the Oyo State Family Planning, Reproductive Health and Maternal Services Bill, 2017 held on Wednesday, 17th October 2018 at the Western Hall, Oyo State House of Assembly Secretariat, Ibadan.

 The basic reason for a public hearing is to elevate a democratic procedure for adopting laws involving the people in lawmaking and achieving a more complete implementation of the oversight functions, increase transparency of the work of the legislators – Rt. Hon. Joshua Olagunju Ojo Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly.

Rt. Hon. Joshua Olagunju Ojo, Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly and other legislators at the public hearing.

The Bill had gone through the 1st and 2nd reading and is on its way to been passed into law. The Speaker of the Oyo state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Joshua Olagunju alongside other lawmakers, top government officials, the Attorney General –Barr. Seun Abimbola, and commissioner for Justice and other stakeholders from, Ministry of health, The Nigerian Bar Association, Medical practitioners, NGOs, religious organizations, Association of traditional birth attendants, Civil societies, and others attended the public hearing in order to make their contributions towards improving the Bill.

Hon. S.O Okunlola, the Chairman, Committee on Health in his welcome address said that the aim of the Bill is to promote and protect the right of people of Oyo state especially women to enable them to have access to reproductive health and adequate maternity services. He stated further that, “for any reasonable government, the health of citizens should be a priority as such the health policy of government at federal and state and local government levels should be in tandem with international best practices”.

Deliberations at the public hearing were aimed at having a sustainable framework for reproductive health and maternal care services in Oyo state through a legislation.

The Bill is a private members bill which was sponsored and brought to the attention of the legislators who received it with open arms. It is intended to complement the efforts of the executive arm of government in the state in the area of providing quality healthcare to the people in the state. Hon. Okunlola assured all stakeholders present at the public hearing that the memoranda compiled and submitted will be painstakingly looked into in order to come out with an implementable document.

A cross section of stakeholders at the public hearing.

The Import of the Bill was presented by Hon. Mrs. B.O Oladeji, Chairperson, Committee on Women Affairs, Community Development, Social Welfare, and Poverty Alleviation.

“It has been observed that most women do not have access to adequate reproductive health and maternal care services in the state, as a result, many women suffer complications during childbirth which in turn contributes to increased maternal mortality. This bill intends to promote and protect the rights of women in having access to adequate reproductive health and maternal care services in the state. It also intends to put in place a structure for upholding standards and monitoring maternal care services provided in the state and Local government levels. It intends to promote women’s health, safe motherhood and reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rate amongst our women. Sections in the bill provide for the establishment of committees to monitor the level of antenatal and postnatal care as well as activities of health care providers in the state and local governments. Clause 8 of the bill provides major standards and regulations of which health care providers need to comply with and there are equally penalties for contraventions. It is believed that this bill will go a long way in improving the health of women in terms of putting in place regulations and standard for monitoring, provision of family planning and provision of safe healthcare services in Oyo state”.

One of the stakeholders the State Team Lead (NURHI) Oyo state, Mrs. Stella Akinso in her contribution to the memoranda had this to  say:

“Women of reproductive of age by definition starts from 15 -49 which means young people who are sexually active have been factored in. Young people need access to quality family planning and maternity services. This Bill will become ineffective without budgetary allocation and release for the implementation. There is also the need for the provision of adequate human capital (skilled and trained healthcare providers/birth attendants) to be able to implement all the things stated in the bill”.

Mrs. Akinso advised that after the Bill gets passed it should be translated into the local language so that everyone can have access to the information therein. More than anything she said, there is the need for a total overhaul of health facility and system in Oyo state.

The maternal mortality rate in Nigeria stands at 645 per 100,000 births and in Oyo state 262 women out of 100, 000 that deliver will die. That translates to mean that about 3 women will die out of 1000 births.

This is unacceptable as No Woman Should Die Giving Birth to Another Life and this is the essence of this bill. Mrs. Akinso ended her contribution to the memoranda with these words, “I do hope that this bill will be adequately funded, monitored and implemented”.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

Rape Survivor – “You can Heal”.

At the TeensHubs seminar for adolescents which held recently in Ibadan, while waiting for my turn to speak to participants about the harmful effects and need to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM ), I listened to this heartbreaking yet happy ending story of a young lady who had volunteered for the event. Oluwafunmbi Adeoti was born in Kwara state.

Funmbi – Rape Survivor & Me after sharing her story with Adolescents at the seminar

While growing up she wanted to be loved and therefore sort for acceptance wherever she could find it. Unfortunately she fell into the wrong hands and got pregnant at age 16 after been raped. Not wanting her parents to find out Funmbi ran away from home and soon met her former physics teacher who was then lecturing at a University.

Desperately looking for answers and a way out of her predicament she shared her dilemma with this physics teacher. Instead of helping, he added salt to her injury by encouraging her to opt for abortion. Things took a worse turn as this man lied to her that abortion was a very painful procedure and in order to minimize her pain he had to sleep with her. Poor Funmbi, was taken advantage of by another adult who should have protected her. Eventually she did have the abortion but kept the pain to herself for eight years.

Somewhere down the road while still hurting Funmbi met people who drew her out and the first time she spoke about what she had gone through, she wept profusely. However it was the beginning of her healing journey.

Funmbi had to learn that it was not her fault that these rape incidences happened and had to learn forgiveness. It was tough but at some point Funmbi came to a decision; that “the remaining part of her life was going to become the best”. Now she boldly speaks about her experience and has this to say to other survivors –

Whatever you have gone through, you can heal”.

There are many rape survivors out there like Funmbi, who need to get a chance to heal. Reach out to someone today, you never can tell what that innocent looking face might be going through.

If you are a survivor please reach out; do not continue to suffer on in silence battling the monsters of the trauma of your experience.

Break the Culture of Silence; Speak Up! 

And parents please pay attention to your children. Initiate conversations about their sexuality and reproductive health early on in life. Befriend them and educate them about situations and people who could take advantage of them.

Statistics

42.2% females were raped before age 18 (C DC – Center for Disease Control).

29% of Male were raped before age 10.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com