Abuja - Professor Babatunde Oshotimehin, the Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has urged the Federal Government to eliminate child marriage so as to curb maternal mortality in the country.
Oshotimehin said this in Abuja on Thursday.
He blamed the incessant maternal mortality rate on early marriage and lack of education among young women in the country.
“When you disaggregate between the issues of maternal mortality and you look at the ages of the women and the girls who die, most of them are not ready, especially the girls are not ready for child bearing.
“If you marry off a girl at the age of 10, and she starts to have baby by 11 or 12, that is a child having a child, she is not ready, she doesn’t even understand what it is, physically, emotionally, and psychologically, she is not ready.
“The likelihood that she will die (of preganacy-related complications) is most probably 100 times than a woman who is 22.
“So, I think we need to address those things, what contributes to it, let’s try and reduce the issue of child marriage.
Also read: Last gasp attempt to save Delta death row inmate
“When we eliminate that, get the girls to go to school, stay in school to maturity and you educate them, and give them good nutrition and health, it actually reduce this considerably.''
Oshotimehin also said that young women develop fistulas due to early marriage, thereby making Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) a necessity.
He said that the Fund had globally assisted with the burden inflicted on the young women.
“One of our major issues and our major interventions is fistula repair, we repair fistulas all over the world and I am not talking about Nigeria alone.
“If we stop marrying girls that are 10 and they grow to be women, they won’t have fistulas because the reason why fistulas develop is because the girl has a body which is not ready for child bearing.
“When the baby is trying to come out, it is with great difficulty and in circumstances where they don’t even have access to good medical care, they are going to have difficult labour and develop fistulas.
“It is something we can eliminate in our lifetime, we can do it now, we can decide that fistulas must go and it will go because we know what to do.''
According to him, the paramount issue is to eliminate child marriage and ensure that difficult deliveries have access to good quality healthcare.