Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate dropped from 1,500 per 100,000 in 1999 to 576 in 2013, a major achievement of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, 1994.
Yusuf Anka, the acting Chairman of National Population Commission, said this on Tuesday in Abuja at a news conference ahead of 2019 World Population Day, celebrated annually on July 11.
The celebration is aimed at bringing to the fore, challenges and benefits of population increase and best ways to manage the increase to achieve the best out of it.
This year’s World Population Day has “25 years of the ICPD: Accelerating the Promise” as its theme.
The day is also to celebrate remarkable proposition and to raise awareness on how choices changed girls and women.
Anka said that “the Cairo Plan” was remarkable because it recognised reproductive health and rights, as well as women empowerment and gender equality as cornerstone of population development.
He explained that during the conference, all the countries in attendance, including Nigeria, agreed to a 20-year action plan aimed at avoiding population growth and environmental consequences.
The NPoPC acting chairman said “Nigerian women have the right to determine how many children to procreate, in accordance to the Cairo Action Plan”.
He said that the Cairo Plan discounted population control which emphasised coercive means to give support to policies that gave women greater control over their lives.
He noted that the Cairo paradigm shift adopted visionary programmes of action and agreed that empowering women and enabling them to freely decide the timing and spacing of their pregnancies was a major roadmap to sustainable development.
He cited the use of modern contraceptives from four per cent in 1990 to the current 12 per cent, as well as reduction in the number of children from six to five as one of the major gains.
The population boss, however, said that Nigeria was still lagging behind in spite of the reduction in maternal mortality.
He identified sexual violence, especially in humanitarian settings like Internally Displaced Persons camps as the biggest threat to female reproductive health rights.
Earlier, Osaretin Adonri, the Assistant Representative, UN Population Fund, said there was a paradigm shift from population growth to quality population.
He explained that the world was more interested in having a population that could be an asset than the one that would be a liability.