Covid-19: Repositioning SRHR services for sexual minorities and vulnerable groups by: Ursulla ChinasaINCRESE
Corona virus or COVID-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome. The first case of novel coronavirus was reported in wuhan, China in late December,2019. It was declared as public Health emergency of international concern on 30th of January and a pandemic on 11th march of 2020 by World Health Organization.
The Virology laboratory section of Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) at Lagos state recorded the first case of corona virus on 27th February, of a-44-years –old Italian man travelling from Lagos to his business base at Ogun state. The first death was recorded on the 23rd March of a 66-years-old UK returnee who went for medical treatment.
As at 1st of May 2020 a total of 1,932 corona virus cases have been confirmed, while a total of active case of 1,555,00 were recorded. 319 recovered with a total of 58 deaths. Following the outbreak of this pandemic all over the world, the reports shows an increase in violence, banditry, deaths of security personel at the hands of angry citizens, infringement of human rights by law enforcement agencies, sexual violence, poor service delivery and total lock down in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states. Other states observed minial levels of lock down.
According to an article by Ngozi Nwosu-Juba the project Director of Vision Spring Initiatives on rethinking strategies on SRHR and human rights pre and post Covid-19, the National human right Commission report that as at March 2020, a total of 105 human right violations had taken place nationwide with Lagos having a total incidence of 28 cases. The report also noted that there had been reports of gender based violence leading to death of women and girls. Surprisingly these case have not been separately captured and documented. The total lockdown implemented by the Federal government in Lagos Ogun and Abuja was done without adequate consideration for the sources of employment in the country especially minority groups.
INCRESE a non-government, not-for-profit –making organization works for the protection and promotion of the sexual and reproductive health and rights of individuals at the national, regional and international levels, providing sexual and reproductive health care services to women, adolescents and LGBTQ persons in Nigeria; The organisation also promotes pleasurable and safer sex behavior among community members and set up support mechanisms for people living under abusive conditions, especially people living with HIV/AIDS, survivors of sexual violence and sexual minorities. The lock down has negatively impacted the provision of services to its beneficaries especiallly sexual minorities as mobility and service delivery was hampered due to the pandemic. This period has exposed poor service delivery of government and calls for adequate structuring and provision of services for those who need it most! INCRESE approach to service delivery is empowering and enables service recipients to make informed choices relating to ther sexual well-being.
Nigeria needs to up its game with regads to the provision of sexual and reproductive health and rights inlcuding commodites even in times of national crisis such as we have just experienced. In htis regards it should partner with civil society organisations such as INCRESE for robust service delivery. There is need for adequate data that shows vulnerable Nigerians and how they can be reached duirng crisis.
Due to the lockdown in Ogun, Lagos and Abuja there has been lack of access to SRHR services and products, increased cases of sexual and gender based violence, violation of human right on sexual minorities and those living with HIV/AIDS on their shelter facilities and safe homes. In order to move the world forward, SRHR services and products should be recognized as human friendly and the need to tackle root causes of stigmatization of sexual minorities, people living with HIV/AIDS and other vulnerable groups.
By: Ursulla Chinasa
Girl child advocate