UNFPA Calls for Increased Family Planning Awareness
During a visit to Liberia in July, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin promised the population agency’s continued assistance to Liberia’s youth development and maternal mortality programmes and called for increased awareness on family planning in the country. Osotimehin termed the death of a woman at childbirth as “unacceptable”. “A woman giving birth is doing society a service and there should be no reason acceptable if she dies in the process.” He said infection and loss of blood during child birth are preventable.
During his visit, Osotimehin met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Karin Landgren, authorities of Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, staff of UNFPA, and various other stakeholders. Liberia’s Deputy Health Minister Bernice Dahn presented Osotimehin a road map that seeks to accelerate reduction of maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity in the country.
During a visit to Redemption Hospital located on Bushrod Island, Monrovia, Osotimehin toured the maternity hall and Emergency Obstetric Care centre to acquaint himself with UNFPA sponsored programmes on family planning and fistula. Osotimehin said UNFPA’s assistance to Liberia is meant to “improve the potential of every youth, make every pregnancy wanted and make every child birth safe, a goal that fits into Liberia’s youth development programme.”
Speaking at a presentation of census analysis reports by Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) at Monrovia City Hall, Osotimehin said UNFPA was a “credible partner” to LISGIS during Liberia’s 2008 census. He praised LISGIS for implementation of standardized census exercise in Liberia but noted that Africa needed to still improve on methods of accurate data collection and keeping of birth and death records.
LISGIS’ census report indicated that 60 per cent of Liberia’s population are youth, a situation Osotimehin said makes UNFPA to “pay greater attention to youth issues, particularly adolescent girls.” He said adolescent girls represent the most “vulnerable” class of Liberia’s citizens. Osotimehin said he was impressed by Liberian Government’s commitment to address issues affecting young people despite the challenges.
Empowering young women and giving them necessary information and support would help adolescent girls “make informed family planning decisions, help them stay in school as well as reduce maternal mortality,” Osotimehin said. He also cited insufficient nutrition as another problem impeding the growth and education of adolescent girls in Liberia. He assured UNFPA’s commitment to help Government of Liberia as it invests in agriculture to ensure food security and equal employment opportunities for every Liberian, including adolescent girls.