By Talatu Maiwada
Abuja, Oct. 2, 2020 The House Committee on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Control (ATM), on Friday, partnered AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF), an NGO, to improve the wellbeing and provision of healthcare services for the girl-child.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Abubakar Dahiru, made the promise during an interface with AHF-Nigeria Girls Act at the National Assembly in Abuja.
The meeting was part of activities to commemorate the 2020 International Day of the Girl-Child, declared by the United Nations, established in 2012 and annually celebrated on Oct. 11.
Dahiru made the commitment in response to demands made by AHF Girls Act, which includes provision of adequate water, toilet facilities in schools, provision of sanitary pads and support to lower age, and consent to access reproductive health services.
He said the committee would partner with the foundation to ensure the rights of the girl-child were protected and provided for by presenting bills and motions, while seeking 50 per cent increase in 2021 budget.
He added that “we will partner with the foundation to evolve a motion that is going to help; that is why we said the group should write all their grievances and bring it to us.
“We are going to put it together, if it is a bill we will present the bill, and if it is a motion we will present the motion.
“On the issue of AIDS, TB and malaria whose symptoms are similar to COVID-19, we are equally doing our best, especially with the 2021 budget, to ensure an increase of almost 50 per cent.”
Dahiru appreciated the foundation for the advocacy in ensuring that the girl child was empowered, while encouraging other partners to collaborate more with the legislators as they represent the whole federation.
Hon. Darlington Nwokocha, member ATM committee, reiterated their commitment to partner with the foundation, saying such awareness campaign was important.
He said “it is true that the sanitary situation of some schools and public places is quite abysmal.
“It is important that the 360 members of the House of Representatives go back home and find out the sanitary situation of our schools.
“We are ready to partner with you because you have a very meaningful objective that will strengthen the health infrastructure for a better Nigeria.”
The foundation’s Advocacy and Marketing Manager, Mr Steve Aborishade, explained that “the Girls Act is a girl-led initiative that fosters leadership, builds confidence for girls and young women to support each other.”
Aborishade said that young girls faced a lot of challenges such as difficulty in accessing sanitary pads for their menstrual cycle, stressing that free sanitary pads should be reintroduced in schools across the country.
He added that “in Nigeria today, the age of consent is 18, and if a girl is below 18 years, she cannot access reproductive health services.
“Most girls do not like discussing their issues with adults and a lot of them have challenges of unwanted pregnancies and infection.
“The sanitary situation in schools is of ģreat concern, as water supply is inadequate and the toilets are really bad.”
Sarah Udeh, 18 years old member of the AHF Girls Act, said that water, hygiene, sanitation were the core needs of schools, stressing that none were available in most schools across the country.
Ruth Daniel, another member of the AHF Girls Act, said “Girls Act is all about empowering young girls; we are looking forward to a generation where girls are no more molested.
“We are looking to where the rights of girls will be protected, where girls are bold to speak out, I encourage young girls who are raped to be vocal and fight for their right.”