The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has urged journalists and Civil Society organizations (CSOs) to advocate for the passage of free Maternal, Child Healthcare (MNCH) bill into law while making accountability demands from duty bearers in Kano State.
CHRICED gave the advice at a one-day training workshop tagged “Strengthening Maternal and Child care through Accountability interventions in Kano State”, held, Tuesday, at the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Studies, Mambayya House, Gwanmaja.
The workshop which was supported by the Misereor (IHR HILFWERK) seeks to reduce maternal and child mortality in Gwale and Kumbtso local government areas in the state.
This can be achieved by improving inclusion, transparency and accountability in planning and management of health budget and interventions.
One of the objectives of the workshop was to develop legal framework that provides for the free care for mothers and children and to inform the population about it.
In his brief remarks, CHRICED Executive Director, Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi said his organization is running the project on the premise that it is possible to reduce maternal and child mortality across the state by improving inclusion, transparency and accountability amongst others to ensure that people in Kano state especially women and children are not victims of needless death.
“Maternal and childcare is critical to the development of any nation.
“The ordinary citizen has lost hope and become alienated from the governance process, hence the need for this training to amplify the voice of the voiceless,” he emphasized.
Dr. Zikirullahi added that any nation where a woman dies as a result of bringing forth another life is a failed state.
He, therefore, encouraged COSs and journalists to seek knowledge on how to beam searchlight on those in governance to help amplify the voice of both women and children.
In his presentation on best practices in Amplifying Community Voices for improved Maternal Health Service Delivery, the Senior Program Officer, Omoniyi Adewoye noted that the reason why communities cannot make demands from their representatives on the area of maternal health and childcare is due to ignorance.
He said Kano state government have showed reasonable level of commitment in terms of budgetary allocation but the matter of release and adequate utilization of funds is still the major challenge facing the state.
“Previous findings have indicated that in Kano state allocation as per percentage of the budget has surpassed the National average, which is the Abuja Declaration of 15 percent allocation to health Sector…. and Kano state has gone above that, in terms of budgets allocation.”
Adewoye revealed that the bulk of the money release for Health budget particularly for Primary health Care Centers in Kano state; almost 80 percent goes on recurrent expenditure, leaving an average of 20 percent for capital expenditure.
He disclosed that, CHRICED has proposed for a Free Maternal and child healthcare bill to be passed into law to be able to create a legal framework for the already existing policy for Kano state free maternal health and childcare which has been in place since 2001.
“This will create windows for government to explore funding of maternal and child health care service delivery while ensuring that access to maternal and child health care service is a matter of right other than a privilege.”
The senior project officer then encouraged CSOs, especially journalists to see themselves as agents for the amplification of the voices of people in local communities and put the necessary skills required to get the passed into law.
A consultant, the Chief Executive Officer, KAMED Tv, Khadija Ishaq Bawas said Maternal health which emphasize on the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period (42 days), also includes family planning, preconception, prenatal and post-natal care in order to ensure positive and fulfilling experiences.
Bawas revealed that reporting maternal health is a step towards saving the lives of more than half a million women, who die yearly as a result of complications from pregnancy and childbirth.
She said journalists should thrive to tell compelling, people focused stories to help make medical issues resonates with audience and also connect with people at the grassroots.
“Journalists must learn to connect with these people, connect with their culture, and know their daily routine to get them to disclose relevant information about themselves.
“Do in-depth reportage especially in areas that have little or no coverage, incorporate official data in your stories but always double -check and verify, engage in development journalism, she added.
Earlier, a resource person from Mass Communication Department, BUK, Hajiya Hadiza Jummai Ibrahim who spoke on “Fact-checking in an age of fake news, misinformation and disinformation” disclosed that Nigeria is the 2nd largest contributor to maternal mortality worldwide.
She said: “To strengthen maternal health, journalists must fact checking claims, interventions done in the state and be objective, fair, honest and transparent when reporting maternal health, and child healthcare issues.”