The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has enlightened community members on how to strengthen maternal and child healthcare (MCH) system in Gwale Local Government Area of Kano State.
The community enlightenment workshop was conducted under the strengthening maternal and child healthcare through accountability interventions with support from Misereor, IHR HILFSWERK.
Some of the event objectives were to specifically improve service delivery in MCH in the project’s focal LGAs, and to address deep-seated problems of lack of accountability, low citizens’ morale, weak community organizing capacity, hazardous governance structure, and general apathy funding the negative impacts of corruption on the delivery of key public health service in the state.
In his remark at the event on Thursday, the Senior Program Officer, CHRICED, Omoniyi Adewoye said the essence of the workshop is to share information on how community members can help to strengthen maternal and child healthcare in Gwale Local Government Area.
He said: “In Africa when a woman gives birth to a child, the whole community gathers to celebrate with her. If the birth of that child can bring all members of the community together, that tells us that the health of that woman during pregnancy should also be a collective responsibility.
“However, in some cases, it is not always true as sometimes we lose the child and even the mother.
“When this happens the whole community also mourns. This is why MCH must be a collective community responsibility, it should not be only the responsibility of the mother and husband alone but a communal effort.
“Hence, this aims to create a platform for community members to interact and rob minds on how to promote community efforts in taking care of the welfare of the pregnant woman and her baby.
“When you look at Statistics, you will realize that Kano State has the highest record maternal and child mortality rate in Nigeria. And Nigeria is the second largest in terms of mortality rate in the world.
“Kano State is one of the worse places for a woman to give birth on planet earth.
“Something needs to be done to solve this problem. Do not always depend on government as communities also have a role to play.
“For instance, in the South, communities come together to build hospitals, Schools; this is because the government cannot do it all.
“We don’t have to build hospitals but there are little things we can do to contribute, for example during labor, someone in the community can assist with a car, even if it means contributing money to buy fuel to make sure you save the life of the mother and the child.
“As community members, let’s engage the government and put pressure on them while performing our own role as community members.”
Earlier in his goodwill message, the Wakilin Fuskan Yamma in Gwale, Alh Aminu Tijjani Sunusi appreciated the efforts of sensitizing community members to take responsibility.
“Though we are doing what we can, CHRICED is here to boost our morale to take meaningful actions to improve our community healthcare system.
“Whatever strategy they introduce, it will be a valuable addition to solving our problem.”
He recalled that ward heads take responsibility once a woman is reported pregnant; “we issue birth certificates, cater to their needs where there are complications, and what we cannot do, we report to the constituted authorities, but that was then.”
The Wakilin Fuskan Yamma then promised to revive the system for a common good.
Also speaking, the Supervisory Councilor, Health, Gwale LGA, Hajia Aisha Haruna Kabuga thanked CHRICED for conducting the community enlightenment workshop in Gwale.
She urged participants to put to practice whatever knowledge is gained at the event.
CHRICED Program Officer, Zuwaira Omar took participants through coordinating community efforts in promoting the health of pregnant mother and their babies.
She encouraged Gwale community members to form a self-help group to cater to the needs of pregnant women, especially during child birth.
Omar said: “The group can take the responsibility of sensitizing community members on the importance of pregnant women going to the hospital, organizing means of transportation for expectant mothers, solicit support of opinion leaders, give financial support to the indigent, interface with government to seek accountability to foster communal help, and promote service delivery for the development of community.”
Community members at the event cherished the efforts of Ward Development Committees (WDCs) for their mobilization and health promotion activities, but are of the opinion that awareness of the WDCs by the masses was low.
The WDC members who spoke lay emphasis on pregnant women’s apathy toward visiting hospital and the need to explore strategies of promoting antenatal and group antenatal care visits to health facilities for safe child birth.
A civil society advocate called for behavioural change toward MCH, not only to understand what quality services that respond to pregnant women needs are but also to seek and demand for such quality services as their fundamental right.
He also promised to push for CHRICED’s Free Maternal, Child Healthcare Bill at the State House of Assembly.
The community enlightenment workshop had traditional leaders, women and youth groups, WDCs, health officials, civil society organizations, and government officials in attendance.