By Adetokunbo Mumuni/SERAP
A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a Freedom of Information request to Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu Minister for Health asking him to provide “within 7 days of the receipt or publication of this request information on the spending relating to maternal health care delivery system and prevention and/or reduction of deaths of women in pregnancy and childbirth in the country for the past five years.”
In the request dated 13 August 2012 and signed by SERAP Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said, “SERAP is seriously concerned about the worsening rate of maternal mortality in Nigeria, which is one of the highest ratios globally. Women in rural areas share a considerable percentage of this ratio. The main cause of maternal mortality suffered by the vulnerable sectors of the population is the lack of access of pregnant women to adequate, affordable and accessible healthcare services.”
The organization also said that, “This situation constitutes a violation of the human rights such as the right to life and the right to health guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which Nigeria has ratified and incorporated as national law through the Ratification and Enforcement Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
“SERAP’s recent study suggests that these rights have been grossly violated by the government despite claims of huge spending in the health sector to prevent and combat the problem of maternal mortality in the country. We are concerned that progress in this area may have been compromised by high level official corruption,” the organization also said.
According to the organization “Article 16 of the African Charter states that every individual has the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical and mental health. State parties, including Nigeria, have an obligation under the African Charter to take necessary measures to protect the health of their people and to ensure that they receive medical attention when they are sick. No discrimination is allowed in the enjoyment of this and other human rights.”
The organization also argued that “Article 14 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which Nigeria has also ratified, requires the government to ensure that the right to health of women, including pregnant women, is guaranteed, respected, protected and promoted. In particular, the government is required to “take all appropriate measures to establish and strengthen existing pre-natal, delivery and post-natal health and nutritional services for women during pregnancy and while they are breast-feeding.”
The organization said that “by virtue of Sections 2(3)(d)(ii)-(V) & (4) of the FOI Act, the Ministry of Health as an agency of the Federal Government is under a binding legal duty to ensure that documents containing information relating to statements and interpretations of policy which have been adopted by the ministry are widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means.”
SERAP is therefore asking the Minister for the following information:
1. How much has been allocated to the health sector from the National Health budget in the past five years (2008- till present)?
2. How much has been spent by the ministry to reduce and/or prevent women dying in pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria in the past five years (2008- till present)?
3. What are the measures employed by the ministry to reduce the maternal mortality rate in Nigeria for the past five years (2008- till present)?
4. What policies of Government are in place to ensure the prevention and/or reduction of maternal mortality in both public and private hospitals in Nigeria?
5. A comprehensive list of all public-private partnerships entered into by the Federal Government within the past five years for the prevention and/or reduction of maternal mortality.
6. A detailed schedule of implementation of the recently concluded payment plan by the Federal Government of Nigeria on maternal and child health care from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P). What version of the Sure Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) is the payment plan by the Federal Government to be made out from? (The Re-called version or the Re-worked version?)
7. How much has the ministry allocated to provide adequate medical facilities for the prevention and/or reduction of maternal mortality in both public and private hospitals?
8. What measures (standards) does the ministry have in place to ensure proper monitoring for the prevention and/or reduction of maternal mortality in private hospitals? What sanctions are in place?”
SERAP Executive Director
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