Emily Johnson
Thu, Aug 10, 2023 8:55 PM

Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Exploitation: A Health Crisis in Adamawa State

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Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Exploitation: A Health Crisis in Adamawa State
Gender-based violence and sexual exploitation pose a significant threat to public health in Adamawa state, Nigeria. To address this crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) has partnered with the government of Adamawa to train and support healthcare workers and volunteers known as GBV Champions. These Champions provide essential care, psychosocial support, and referrals for survivors of gender-based violence. Through their efforts, survivors like Jessica Matthew have received the necessary medical intervention and regained their confidence to seek help. The prevalence of GBV in Adamawa state is alarmingly high, emphasizing the critical need for targeted interventions and support services. By collaborating with civil society organizations and utilizing mobile health teams, WHO strives to ensure that GBV services reach vulnerable populations in IDP camps, host communities, and hard-to-reach areas.

Gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) are significant challenges affecting public health in Adamawa state, Nigeria. The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the state government, has taken steps to address this crisis and provide quality care for survivors of GBV, particularly those receiving humanitarian aid.

Thanks to the support of USAID's Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and the Government of Germany, WHO has trained and empowered 65 healthcare workers and volunteers, also known as GBV Champions. These Champions have been equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to sensitively and effectively support survivors of GBV according to WHO guidelines.

One survivor, Jessica Matthew (name changed for anonymity), shares her journey of suffering sexual abuse from her brother-in-law for over five years. She endured the physical and emotional violence in silence, fearing disbelief and stigma if she spoke out. However, everything changed when she encountered a GBV Champion at Girei Local Government Area (LGA).

"Living in fear, I couldn't confide in anyone because I thought they wouldn't believe me," Jessica recalls. Fortunately, the GBV Champion provided her with vital medical support and counseling, helping her find the courage to disclose the abuse to her husband. Equipped with the information and education he received from the health officers, Jessica's husband believed her, creating a supportive environment for her recovery.

GBV has severe short- and long-term consequences on women's physical, sexual and reproductive health, mental well-being, and social functioning. Unfortunately, Adamawa state lacks specific data on GBV prevalence in humanitarian contexts. However, the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey estimates that 44.4% of women aged 15-49 in the state have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual violence in their lifetime.

In the humanitarian response plan for 2023, GBV interventions target a total of 1,317,980 individuals, including internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, and host community members. Notably, Yola, Adamawa state, accounts for 34% of these targets.

The WHO Emergency Manager in the northeast region of Nigeria, Dr. Beatrice Muraguri, emphasizes the seriousness of GBV in the affected states and highlights the vital role that health systems play in supporting survivors. GBV encompasses various forms of violence rooted in gender inequality, and addressing it requires comprehensive physical, sexual, and emotional health responses.

Between January and May 2023, over 141,200 women in Adamawa state received GBV key messages, indicating the ongoing efforts to prevent GBV and provide credible information. WHO remains committed to sustaining prevention measures and ensuring vulnerable women and girls in Adamawa state have access to accurate information and tailored health services.

Mrs. Uziel Tulhungu, the Reproductive Health Coordinator and Gender-Based Officer in Adamawa state, expresses gratitude for WHO's support in developing the skills and instincts of healthcare workers. Through the continuous efforts of the GBV Champions, the communities are educated about the dangers of GBV/SEA, building trust that encourages survivors to seek medical intervention and support.

Efforts to provide timely and comprehensive GBV services are ongoing. WHO collaborates with civil society organizations and employs mobile health teams to reach vulnerable populations in IDP camps, host communities, and remote areas. This multifaceted approach ensures that survivors receive the crucial care they need and deserve.

As gender-based violence and sexual exploitation continue to threaten public health in Adamawa state, the collaboration between WHO, the government, and community leaders becomes increasingly instrumental in combating this crisis. The GBV Champions, armed with their knowledge, skills, and empathy, provide a glimmer of hope for survivors like Jessica, enabling them to reclaim their lives and eventually rebuild thriving communities free from violence.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-10 News

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