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Every minute, a woman in the developing world dies from treatable complications of pregnancy or childbirth.  Every minute, a family is devastated.  The lives of surviving children are put at risk.  Communities suffer.  And for every woman who dies, as many as 20 are seriously harmed by fistula or other injuries of childbearing.

UNFPA’s strategy for preventing maternal mortality includes:

  • Family Planning to reduce unintended pregnancies

  • Skilled care at births

  • Timely emergency obstetric care for all women who develop complications

UNFPA also advocates at many levels for the right of mothers to give birth safely.  The Fund spearheads the global campaign to end fistula, a collaborative initiative to prevent this devastating injury of childbirth and to restore the health and dignity of those who are living with its consequences.  Similarly, UNFPA is working to address the shortage of skilled midwives in many developing countries.


The critical importance of reproductive health to achieving international development goals was affirmed at the highest level at the 2005 World Summit.  Reproductive Health is also a human right.  Yet poor reproductive health conditions are the leading cause of deaths and illnesses in women of childbearing age worldwide, while some 350 million couples lack the ability to plan their families or space their children.

UNFPA promotes holistic approach to reproductive health care that includes:

  • Universal access to accurate information, a range of safe and affordable contraceptive methods, and sensitive counselling

  • Ensuring that quality maternal obstetric care is available to all pregnant women

  • Prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections, include HIV

Investments in reproductive health save and improve lives, slow the spread of HIV and encourage gender equality.  These benefits extend from the individual to the family and from the family to the society.

Securing Reproductive Health Supplies

Without essential commodities such as contraceptives, HIV testing kits and emergency obstetric care equipment, people cannot fully exercise the rights and access reproductive health care services.  In many places, male and female condoms are urgently needed to prevent the spread of HIV.  UNFPA’s mandate in this area is to provide the right quantities of the right products in the right condition in the right place at the right time for the right price.  This complex logistical process involves many actors from both the public and private sectors.  UNFPA takes a lead role in reproductive health commodity security, by forecasting needs, mobilising support, building logistical capacity at the country level and coordinating with government and other partners.

Assisting in Emergencies

Humanitarian crises are reproductive health disasters.  In the wake of war or natural disaster, educational and health systems collapse, gender-based violence increases, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections spread, and infant and maternal mortality rates often skyrocket.  The collapse of social systems leaves women and young people especially vulnerable.

Within the coordinated, inter-agency response to disasters UNFPA takes the lead in providing supplies and services to protect reproductive health.  Priority areas include safe motherhood; prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, adolescent health; and gender-based violence.  UNFPA also encourages the full participation of women and young people in efforts to rebuild their societies.

GO TO: Fostering Effective and Harmonized Partnerships towards achieving Measurable Results for MDGs 4, 5 and 6: UNFPA Nigeria’s development assistance to Health system strengthening

8th International Conference & 44th Annual General Meeting of Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON): 31st November, to 3rd December, 2010 at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria.

More than two decades into the war against maternal deaths, Nigeria still has one of the
worst maternal mortality statistics in the world. With a maternal mortality ratio of 545 per 100,000 live births, Nigeria is second only to India in the global estimates of maternal mortality. India’s population, however, is about eight times that of Nigeria. The Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) has been in the forefront of advocacy, training, seminars and related actions to galvanise the country into action to correct this anomaly.
From the mid-1980s to 1990s, SOGON organized a series of workshops and seminars to raise awareness on issues relating to safe motherhood in various parts of the country. In the year 2000, SOGON formulated a strategic plan on women’s health based on the reproductive health approach with the aim of reducing maternal mortality by 50% by the year 2010. The SOGON Strategic Plan on Women’s Health (2000- 2010) focuses on three major issues to improve women’s reproductive health: safe motherhood, prevention of unwanted pregnancy and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Between 2002 and 2004, SOGON conducted a needs assessment of the status of emergency obstetric services in six states of Nigeria (one in each geopolitical zone). The report of the survey categorized causes of maternal deaths in Nigeria based on the three-delay model.
In 2005, the Nigerian Road Map for accelerating the attainment of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 was launched. One of the key guiding principles of the Road Map was promoting partnerships and joint programming among stakeholders including professional associations. In response, SOGON decided to align her strategic plan with the Road Map by refocusing the plan to the key objectives of the Road Map. The new SOGON Plan involves interventions with a focal objective of reducing the case-fatality of emergency obstetric conditions. The plan is anchored on interventions where SOGON has comparative advantage such as providing human resources and promoting capacity building for emergency obstetric care and skilled attendance at delivery, and advocacy and information dissemination on maternal health. SOGON is of the idea that a structure is needed to provide constant facilitation of the provision of emergency obstetric care at community and local government levels if we are to reduce maternal and newborn deaths appreciably.
It is against this back drop that SOGON held her conference with the theme “Priorities in Reproductive Health from 30th November, to 3rd December, 2010 at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja.

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1st National Family Planning Conference: 22nd to 24th November, 2010 at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja, Nigeria.

The fertility level in Nigeria is quite high (total fertility rate; TFR is 5.7) which implies that an average Nigerian woman will bear approximately six children in her lifetime (NDHS 2008). The 2006 census (142 million) gave an annual population growth rate figure of 3.2 percent. At this growth rate it would take only 22 years for the population of Nigeria to double. More than two-fifths of the population is currently under the age of 15 years.
Low level of family planning utilisation is a major factor in the fertility pattern and population growth rate in Nigeria. According to the NDHS, the contraceptive prevalence rate for Nigeria was 14.62 percent for any method and 9.7 percent for modern methods in 2008. This scenario is largely due a culture that is highly supportive of large family size, misconceptions about family planning methods, and male child preference. Other major factors include inadequate access to family planning services, poor quality of services and inadequate demand creation efforts.
Persisting unmet need for family planning can undermine the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals and compromise global efforts towards human development. In Nigeria, the level of unmet need for family planning exceeds the level of contraceptive use.
Family planning as a health programme is very beneficial and very important to reduce the currently high maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. Apart from these , there are several non- contraceptive benefits of family planning which include menstrual cycle regulation , decreased menstrual flow, decreased dysmenorrhea, decreased peri-menopausal symptoms ,decreased acne, decreased hirsutism, decreased risk of endometrial cancer and decreased risk of ovarian cancer.
The potential of contraceptive practice in preventing unsafe and unnecessary abortions, maternal and neonatal deaths, or the transmission of HIV to newborns warrants more stakeholders’ commitment especially that of Nigerians.
It was against this background that the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with other partners organized the first National Conference on Family Planning in Nigeria from November 22 -24, 2010 in Abuja. This is to discuss the current state of family planning services, enable partners share available findings and identify knowledge gaps, as well as use new knowledge to transform development policy.

The overall goal of the Conference was to improve access to family planning in Nigeria and thus the main focus was on a critical review of the reasons why significant progress had not been made on implementation of family planning related policies.

(More information)


Agreement DFID - UNFPA in Support of Reproductive Health Programme in Nigeria

March 11, 2010, an agreement has been signed between the Department For International Development (DFID) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in support of the Reproductive Health Programme of the Federal Ministry of Health. Availability of reproductive health services is crucial to the reduction of maternal and neonatal deaths and the achievement of MDG 4 and 5. The Federal Ministry of Health has taken various steps, in recent times, to ensure availability of the commodities in all parts of the country.  
As part of the programme aimed at protecting and promoting delivery of basic services to the people of Nigeria, DFID is collaborating with UNFPA, the leading UN agency supporting national governments in using population data to inform national development, ensuring access to reproductive health and rights and promoting gender equality, to provide reproductive health commodities to public health facilities in the country.  In a memorandum signed between the two Agencies in Abuja, Nigeria, they agreed to provide this service with a grant of Three Million Pounds Sterling (£3,000,000) from DFID.
During the signing ceremony, Mr. Richard Montgomery, the head of DFID office in Nigeria, expressed the British Government’s willingness to assist Nigeria to reduce maternal and newborn mortality rates which are currently unacceptably high.
In her remarks Dr. Agathe Lawson, the UNFPA Resident Representative in Nigeria, acknowledged the contribution of the DFID to poverty reduction and development, especially in the areas of Reproductive Health in Nigeria. She commended the Federal Ministry of Health for their proactive approach to the issue of unmet needs for Reproductive Health and pledged UNFPA continuous support to the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The signing ceremony took place at DFID office in Abuja and it was witnessed by Ms Jane Miller, the team leader and senior health advisor and Mr. David Ukagwu, the Assistant Programme Manager.



Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA ED on launching of CARMMA (2009)

Sokoto Declaration (2009)
Cancer Screening: Challenges and Prospectives (2009)
Obstetric Fistula: A hope betrayed (2009)
An update on Maternal MOrtality in Nigeria (2009) in First Workshop on the Reduction of Maternal Mortality Survival of Women, hosted by the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Her Excellency, Hajia Turai Yar'Adua.
UNFPA Representative Dr Agathe Lawson participate with the First Lady in Advocacy Meeting in Anambra State (2010)


Fact Sheets:


Nigeria Family Planning analysis: selected Demographic and Socio-Economic Variables (2010)

Nigeria: Contraceptive Logistic Management System Assessment Report, 2009

Ebonyi State Mother and Child Care Initiative (MCCI). Policy brief - elimination of obstetric fistula

Ebonyi State Mother and Child Care Initiative (MCCI). Final documentation Report - 2010

Situation Analysis and Action Plan for Newborn Health (2007)
The Fistula Forthnight Healing Wounds. Kano, Katsina, Kebi and Sokoto States (2006)



Report of Workshop Promotion of Maternal Neonatal and Child Health for Wives of State of Executives Governors (2009)
Communication Strategy for the Implementation of Community Integrated Maternal Neonatal and Child Health in Nigeria (2008)
Evaluation of Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Obstetric Fistula in Northern Nigeria Project (2008)
Report of the workshop on the Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Kaduna State (2008)
Report on workshop of Promotion of Maternal Health for wives of Governors (2008)
Workshop on the Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Kaduna State (2008)
Conference on the Role of Traditional/Religious leaders on Reduction of Maternal Mortality and Survival of women (2008)
UNFPA provides Nigerian hospitals with emergency equipment to save women´s lives (2008)
National Strategic Framework and Plan for the elimination of Obstetric Fistula in Nigeria (2007)


Fostering Effective and Harmonized Partnerships towards achieving Measurable Results for MDGs 4, 5 and 6: UNFPA Nigeria’s development assistance to Health system strengthening