The Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN) has issued a six-point call to action on governments to stop gender-based violence and violence against women.

It wants the National Council on Health to declare free medical care for survivors of gender-based violence.

The call came at APHPN’s 37th annual general meeting and scientific conference in Abuja to spotlight the rising spate of violence against women and girls in Nigeria and profer solutions.

In addition, the council should assign a focal point for GBV in each health facility in Nigeria to help survivors navigate through health facilities in a timely manner.

The council is the highest policy making body for health in the country.

The association also calls for the establishment of at least one forensic lab in each geopolitical zone in the country to support the prosecution of gender-based violence.

In addition, every state government is to establish and fund at least one response centre and shelter for gender-based violence.

The association says the centre should be manned by government-paid staff with linkages to other support services survivors may need.

States should also institute a sex offenders register to “name and shame” perpertrators, the association demanded.

States, in addition, must end impunity around gender-based violence.

Edo is among few states that have put in place a sex offenders register.

Several states are yet to adopt the Violence against Persons Prohibition act and Child Rights Act, years after Nigeria domesticated both.

The association wants states falling behind to adopt the acts “without further delay, to protect our women and girls”.

“Beyond the adoption of the laws, we need to strengthen law enforcement and awareness of the law around Gender-Based Violence,” the association said in its call to action.

“Everyone should understand that violence against women and girls is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.”

In 1996, the World Health Assembly declared violence against women as a major public health issue to be urgently addressed by governments and health organizations.

Gender-based violence causes a host of health problems that further strains health systems’ resources, limits women’s growth and productivity, impedes the well-being of families and communities, and hinders governments from achieving national goals related to health and women’s advancement.

The impact of gender-based violence on women’s health, in particular, is well documented – It is a major cause of disability and death among women worldwide; It has adverse consequences for women’s sexual and reproductive health.

Violence during pregnancy can cause serious harm to both the mother and baby. Health professionals are central to the response against Gender-based violence.

APHPN in collabaration with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the EU-UN Spotlight Initaitive hosted a high-level plenary session and launched the Orange the World campaign for doctors as part of efforts in amplifying the call for global and local action to end the pandemic violence, made worse by COVID-19.