CERHI is a World Bank-supported project at the University of Benin whose mission is to implement high quality training and applied research for professionals needed to build a new cohort of human resource to tackle the population and reproductive health challenges in the African region. The program which commenced in 2016,has acquired some of the most up-to-date pedagogical, research and laboratory facilities that competefavorably with some of the best in any part of the World, and has graduated its first set of students. The program particularly invites applications from students in other African countries, as CERHI has excellent training facilities that will meet their needs, including a fully air-conditioned international students’ hostelcomplete with 24-hours internet access and a wonderful receptivity by the University community throughout their stay.
Reproductive health (RH) has been defined as: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity of the reproductive system”. RH addresses the reproductive processes, functions and systems at all stages of life, and includes fertility regulation, safe motherhood, infant and child survival, sexually transmitted disease including HIV/AIDS, and the prevention of unsafe abortion. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that RH accounts for about 20% of the global burden of disease. As a result of its effects on population dynamics, its practice is a central consideration in global development. It was therefore not surprising that five of the eight Millennium Development Goals agreed to by world leaders forpromoting global development at the turn of the new Millennium were founded on the principles of RH. A major development challenge in West Africa is the poor state of reproductive health as evidenced by high rates of fertility, maternal mortality, and unsafe abortion in the region. All of the 15 countries in West Africa have some of the lowest contraceptive prevalence rates and highest population growth rates in the world, a situation which presents huge economic and social burden with adverse consequences for the region’s growth and development. Nigeria as an example currently has the second highest number of maternal deaths, the highest number of infant deaths and the second highest burden of HIV/AIDs in the world. The country also has the highest number of under-aged marriages, gender-based violence, and sex trafficking in Africa. Despite this high burden of reproductive ill-health, Nigeria has yet to integrate RH into its health and educational system due to a deficit of qualified human resources to address this developmental challenge. There are currently limited educational programs that build the capacity of undergraduate and post-graduate students to undertake service delivery and research for the purpose of improving key indicators of RH in the region. There is a need to raise an adequate number of human resources to develop and implement appropriate policies and programs for reducing rapid population growth and advancing growth and development in the region. It is only through such efforts that the region will witness genuine growth and planned comprehensive development anytime soon.