DR. ZIPPORAH KPAMOR
MSH Country Representative for Nigeria
“In Gombe State, Nigeria, amid the context of violence and terror from Boko Haram, we’re working to empower adolescent girls to become change agents for health-seeking behavior in their communities.”
I joined MSH in 2012, as director of the Community-Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS) project and was appointed MSH Nigeria Country Representative in July 2013.
I grew up in a small, patriarchal village. But thankfully, my family was revolutionary. My father was one of few who attended school, and when he became ill, he told my mother: “You must promise me this, if I’m not around, and you are forced to choose between whom to send to school, always choose the girl. The boy will inherit the land; he will always have a livelihood. The girl child needs an education to find a livelihood for herself.” Thanks to that early support, I went on to become a doctor. Unfortunately, that is not the typical case in Nigeria.
Patriarchal traditions and lack of education are impediments to girls having control over their sexual, reproductive, and overall health. As if that weren’t enough, Boko Haram has added violence and terror to the equation. And whenever there is civil disturbance, women and children suffer most.
If consensual sex ends up in pregnancy, the girl bears the shame—and her dreams of school and a better life evaporate. In response, MSH and local partners initiated a project whereby a pilot group of girls volunteered at a health facility. They now know about protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and they tell friends about these lifesaving and health saving measures. Together, we are creating young, community-based agents of change.
Over the past ten years in Nigeria, MSH has provided a sustainable response to challenges in leadership and governance, health systems, HIV, and service provision to underserved populations. I am proud to be a part of MSH’s commitment to ensure accessibility to health services for all in my country and home.
More from MSH in Nigeria
Video: "Down, Down the Road"