Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have raised the alarm over alleged plans to deny women and girls access to quality health services.
This followed a raid on Marie Stopes Clinic in Lagos state by police officers who reportedly harassed workers and patients in the clinic.
The groups condemned the action of the police, saying raiding such centres amounts to sending a message to people that they are not safe and do not deserve access to quality health services without fear.
“On Tuesday, May 21st, Police officers raided a Marie Stopes Clinic in Lagos, harassed the health workers and patients and took away confidential client information,” the statement read.
“Marie Stopes offers free and affordable family planning services to women and men, pregnancy tests, pre and post-natal care, treatment and services for sexually transmitted infections (STI), HIV testing and ultrasound and laboratory services.
“To raid a centre that provides such services is sending a message to women and girls as well as men and boys that they are not safe in health centres and that they don’t deserve access to quality health services without fear or judgement.
“This is happening in a country that contributes 10% to the global burden of maternal deaths ranking fourth after Sierra Leone, Chad and the Central African Republic.”
Quoting a 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) report, they said women and girls are dying from preventable deaths because of lack of access to quality sexual and reproductive health services.
“The work being done by organisations like Marie Stopes is necessary to dispel myths, provide counselling on the right modern method of birth control and help women and men space their children,” they said.
“Marie Stopes’ work is supporting the government in making sure Nigeria can achieve the targets to reduce morbidity and mortality, which means improving the health and well-being of women and girls in Nigeria.”
They alleged that a Spanish organisation known as CitizenGo was behind the plot.
“These healthcare workers are providing care and saving lives; actions that should be praised and promoted,” they said.
“These efforts to demonize and block access to legal services are being funded in Nigeria by a Spanish organisation called CitizenGO.
“CitizenGo and its extremist partners have been organising trainings in Nigeria and Kenya within the past 18 months, trying to block women’s access to critical healthcare.
“They should not be allowed to instigate the harassment of women making informed choices about their health and health workers who are provided life-affirming services. They must not be allowed to instigate hate and oppression in Nigeria and the rest of Africa. Hate is not part of our culture, and we reject the importation on intolerance by foreign organisations.”
Among the CSOs that signed the statement are Stand To End Rape, Project Alert, International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, Autamaimasa Health Foundation, Drug Free and Preventative Healthcare Organization, Women Crisis Center.