The Commissioner in charge of Bayelsa State for the National Population Commission (NPC), Mrs Gloria Izonfuo has predicted higher maternal mortality rate in the state due to negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Izonfuo made the prediction during the 2020 World Population Day commemoration in Yenagoa, the state capital noting that the event was part of international awareness campaign that is celebrated annually on every July 11.
She said the theme of the 2020 celebration, “putting the brakes on Covid-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now,” was apt and could not have come in better time than now.
Izonfuo said: “The day gives us the opportunity to take stock of the state of the population, especially those often left behind (woman and children, in particular), and thereby determine the way forward in ensuring their fundamental human rights are upheld.
“The theme for this year’s population day couldn’t have come at a better time than now when the world is ravaged ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and its damning consequences especially on the women and girls.
“Like wildfire, Covid-19 has spread to all parts of the world, showing that ours is indeed a small world with little or no boundaries.
“As at July 11, 2020, there were over 12.6 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 564,485 deaths reported globally.
“In Nigeria, there were 31,987 confirmed cases, with 724 deaths; while in Bayelsa, there were 299 confirmed cases, with 18 deaths.”
The federal commissioner, said Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected women and girls in Bayelsa, in many ways because the pandemic led to a lockdown, which paralyzed economic activities in both formal and informal sectors.
She stated that such paralysis included the loss or reduction of household incomes, government revenue and attendant ability to meet statutory responsibilities.
She said the nutritional status of the women was fundamental for good health of mother and child, as lack of it was among the causes of anaemia, which, according to her, was a major concern among women.
In her words: “Covid-19 does not make it easy for women to access and utilize reproductive health facilities, especially as the logistics of getting to health facilities are negatively impacted.
“This situation could lead to higher maternal mortality rates in Bayelsa. Another likely effect of Covid-19 pandemic on women and girls in Bayelsa, is on the delivery of contraceptives.
“The lockdown due to the pandemic has also made it impossible for schools to resume. In the absence of schooling, more girls are likely to drop out of school, and other consequences could include early marriage and high fertility, morbidity and maternal mortality, abortion or low self-esteem.
“Also the federal and state governments have initiated numerous programmes that can mitigate practices that negate the rights of women and girls.
“For us in NPC, we shall continue to pursue our mandate of generating demographic, health and socio-economic data for championing the course of women and girls.”
She commeded all donors, especially UNFPA and UNICEF for their technical and financial support over the years.