The African situation with regard to ’sexual and reproductive health’
The real need of Africa is the eradication of diseases and hunger, as well as the encouragement of self-reliance for its people achieved through massive investment in human capital development. Contraceptives distribution is not a need to start with.
Theresa Okafor is the Director of the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH) a Nigerian civil society coalition of 20 non-governmental organisations dedicated to pro-life and pro-family activities. She submitted the following written interview to europeinfos as witness to the African situation with regard to ’sexual and reproductive health’.
You say that the cultural testimony Africans have received from Europe has changed dramatically from the past to nowadays. Could you explain it?
Christianity brought a lot of development to the continent especially in the areas of education and healthcare. Through Christianity a culture of life was deeply entrenched in the continent. In some parts of Africa, twins were viewed as a taboo and were killed because people saw them as harbingers of evil. It took the courage of Mary Slessor to stop the killing of twins and other fetish practices such as human sacrifice.
Unfortunately, the tables have been turned as Europe now seeks to radically re-define African culture, values and morals which have been held dearly by Africans. The idea of freedom is now misconstrued, as rights have been stripped of the corresponding responsibility which is supposed to accompany them. A woman is now told that she has the right to decide whatever she wants to do with her body, denying the existence of a life. Freedom and rights are now being cruelly misinterpreted to mean that the rights of the unborn child lie in the hands of the woman.
There is also the cultural agenda of Europe to re-define what marriage is. Marriage is viewed by Africans as between opposite sexes with procreation as a dominant objective. Same-sex marriage negates this age-long African definition of marriage. It is infertile and unproductive. Prime Minister David Cameron threatened that foreign aid would be granted on the basis of recognition of same-sex marriage. He promised to slash aid to African countries with poor records on homosexual rights.
What are the roles played by the most relevant actors in the field of health cooperation and in particular in so-called ‘sexual and reproductive health’?
Some International Development Agencies have shown complicity in the promotion of the abortion agenda in the African continent. It is surreptitiously promoted under the guise of backing safe abortion.
The UK Department for International Development (DFID) supports abortion under the smart ‘toga’ of it being safe. They equate it with being a ‘right’ as women have the right to make reproductive health choices. It is also viewed as being ‘necessary’. Unsafe abortions account for 13% of all maternal deaths. The agency opines that lack of access to safe abortion is seriously preventing the ability of countries to achieve Millennium Development Goal 5 (to improve maternal health). From 2008 to 2012 DFID gave an abortion promoter, IPAS, £8.9 million to fund abortion in sub-Sahara Africa.
Is there a link between population control and poverty eradication and development?
The real need of Africa is the eradication of diseases and hunger, as well as the encouragement of self-reliance for its people achieved through massive investment in human capital development. Contraceptives distribution is not a need to start with. What is the rationale behind giving contraceptives to a malnourished woman? Many women die in childbirth not because of a lack of access to contraceptives but because of ill-health and malnutrition. Dumping contraceptives is a quick fix that will get the continent nowhere.
There is no link between population control and poverty eradication. It is instructive that Nigeria and Ethiopia which have high fertility rates feature among the fastest growing economies in the IMF 2011 economic survey.
The UN data is evidence that population growth does in fact lead to economic prosperity: “From 1900 to 2000, world population grew from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion persons. However, while world population increased close to 4 times, world real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 20 to 40 times, allowing the world not only to sustain a fourfold population increase, but also to do so at vastly higher standards of living.”
The Interview was conducted by José Ramos-Ascensão