Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Govt throws weight behind Sexuality Conference

President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua’s seven point agenda to making Nigeria one of the world’s top 20 economies by 2020 through the improvement of the health of her citizens was once more highlighted yesterday at opening ceremony of the 3rd Africa Conference on Sexuality health and Rights in Abuja Nigeria.

In a speech at the opening, the Minister of Health, Professor Adenike Grange, stressed that the Nigerian government is geared towards implementing a holistic approach to health through the strengthening of the health care system, advocating of gender equity, implementation of evidence-based approaches to eliminating violence against women and children and intergrating all programmes pertaining to maternal, newborn and child health.

According to her, sexuality issues are at the heart of the millennium development goals; which Nigeria is striving to achieve, she gave as examples: poverty fuelling sexual health diseases, early marriages, limited access to quality information, sexual violence and gender inequality as the sexuality issues which must be tackled effectively.

While commending the Conference theme, - Sexuality, Poverty, and Accountability- Prof. Grange said that the deliberations from the conference would serve as a veritable tool for formulating cost effective measures of promoting sexual health.

While welcoming delegates to the Conference, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) said that Nigeria has reached the stage where the issue of sexuality should be discussed objectively and openly if the situation of HIV/AIDS was to be improved upon.

According to him, “Every issue on sexuality has an impact on every life and thus every economy and HIV/AIDS has as its centre-point the issue of sexuality.”
Osotimehin stated that he hoped that the Conference deliberations would encourage a dialogue that would affect every work in every country in Africa with respect to HIV/AIDS and sexuality.

Goodwill messages were given by representatives of Ford Foundation, UNAIDS, Ipas, IPPF, Packard Foundation, Urgent Action Plan, Amanitare among others.

*By Nnenna Ike

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