From Idu Jude, Abuja
As part of efforts to accelerate reductions in maternal and new-born mortality and morbidity, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Momentum Safe Surgery are deepening social awareness and behaviour modification programmes across the country.
According to the Deputy Director, public enlightenment and mass mobilization NOA, Mrs Theresa Maduekwe, the three day seminar, which held recently in Abuja was used to ensure effectiveness of the program across the country.
Maduekwe, further added that the capacity building program for Community Orientation and Mobilization of Officers of the NOA was a choice made to help drive down the massage to the Nigerian communities using NOA platforms.
“The participants were drawn from the 36 states of the country and the FCT to help drive down the massage to the locals using NOA platforms. The partnership, which is at its pilot stage is targeted at ensuring that people are educated on the need to fight the scourge.”
She said that the program which is being funded by USAID is targeted at ensuring that proper education of Nigerians irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliations are achieved, with two participants drawn from the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT.
According to her, the USAID, who is the donor agency, is concerned about ineffectiveness of previous enlightenment program with the increase in the spread of the genital mutilation and fistula diseases among young women.
She said, “we are here to partner, with the agencies on two basic issues. On one part, people will be sensitised on safe delivery. They need to know the reasons for going to the hospitals for safe delivery to protect their lives against infections.
“Secondly, it is to optimise the enlightenment campaign on the need to stop early marriage which causes Virginia fistula among young women due to early marriage.”
Also speaking, a clinical specialist, Dr Mudio Bathelomeo, for momentum surgery and safe delivery, said that the program is a UNSAID sponsored health awareness program, targeted at reaching out to the locals for sustainable health benefits.
He stressed that the USAID seek platform of NOA, which is spread across the 774 local government areas, to help disseminate appropriate information on the need for safe delivery.
“The focus is on the woman who experiences difficulty in child delivery, the advice is that such should not resort to self help which is dangerous but just work in to a nearby hospital and have safe delivery without contacting infectious diseases. And another thing is on the need for the prevention of cases of obstetrics fistula among women which also causes leakage of urine from the bladder.
“I can tell you that the major cause of it is the prolonged labour that weakens the bladder untill these complications develop. Another focus is the female genital mutilation, which has terrible health implications on its own. It is a practice that is as old as antiquity with no health benefits, rather it has health complications . That is why we are partnering with NOA to ensure that the massage is driven down to the locals.”
Further commenting on the need for more enlightenment programs, Mudio, said that due to behavioral change, that more work need to be done to change attitude towards wrong ethnic and religious colourations health matters.
“You know that Nigeria is so large and the campaign remains a continuous thing to ensure that the massage is driven down and get to as many Nigerians as possible.”
He said that the campaign though little, is already yielding results owing to positive changes coming out from places where the problems are endemic.
Speaking on the areas of major focus, he said that the Southern part of Nigeria has major cases of genital mutilation with Ebonyi and Imo State taking the lead while the Northern part of Nigeria is endemic with virginia fistula with Sokoto and Kebi State lead others.
On the safe motherhood, he revealed that the case is particularly growing wider across the entire nation due to the inability of pregnant women to approach hospitals early for proper medical attention. This, he said, could be as a result of inability to afford the medical bills, or religion affiliations.
“I think that socio cultural issues are also part of it and of cause some women feel there is no reason to go to hospital since they can push to safe delivery. Such a thing is dangerous.”
The train the trainer workshop, was also used to produce key indicators on how to extract information back to the sponsors who began the campaign in 2021 with a donation of $10 million dollars.