By Olimatou Coker
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and partners on Saturday engaged the Chief of Fuladu East and Alkalolu within the Basse constituency on sexual and reproductive health issues.
The topics included family planning and cervical cancer as well as addressing various forms of gender-based violence including harmful practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage at a sensitisation held in Basse Koba Kunda in the Upper River Region (URR).
The engagement is part of activities by UNFPA under its 12-day “I Am for Zero” campaign which is a follow up to the success of a similar one conducted in late 2016 and early 2017 in NBR, WCR, CRR, URR and LRR. The campaign seeks to promote the realisation of sexual and reproductive health for all especially women, youth and adolescents and addressing Gender-Based Violence and harmful practice by involving men and boys. Activities under the campaign target hard-to-reach communities in the Central River Region-North, the Baddibus in the North Bank Region and the Wuli and Fatoto area in the URR. As done previously, the ‘I am for Zero’ campaign uses a multi-disease approach as an entry-point to sexual and reproductive health including Family Planning.
Speaking at Basse Koba Kunda during the engagement with opinion leaders, Lamin Camara, Programme Analyst – Adolescents and Youth at the UNFPA The Gambia stated that this campaign is very important not only to UNFPA and partners but to the entire country. Mr. Camara said strong male involvement is required in ensuring that no woman dies of preventable causes while giving life, achieving gender equality and also ensuring that women live in health and dignity. He added that it is also important to ensure that women have access to family planning services, and are prevented from all forms of Based Violence.
Alh Hameh Minteh Krubally, Chief of Fuladu East said men should be protectors of women, “women are the drives of the world and it is important they are protected and supported,” he said.
He urged his fellow men to support and encourage women and children who are the future leaders and should be guided through the right path.
Ramou Sonko, Programme Analyst – Gender and Gender Violence at UNFPA, said not every woman will have the opportunity to be screened for cervical cancer in their lifetime.Thus she urged community members to come out in their large numbers to be screened for free as well as to get a free medical advice.
Other speakers included Mberry Jobe, Programme Officer – Gender and Health at the National Youth Council (NYC), who also spoke at length about the need to empower young people, prioritise their development and ensure that they are not left behind especially with regard to access to information and services to safeguard their sexual and reproductive health.