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UNICEF, EU train 2,115 in Kebbi for reproductive health

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The European Union (EU) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have trained 2,115 mothers in four local government areas in Kebbi to boost Maternal Newborn and Child Health Care in the State.

The Women and other key stakeholders in the state commended EU and UNICEF for their initiative of “Mama2Mama” which was introduced and launched in the state in December 2018.

The Coordinator Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH), in Jega Local Government, Ms Hauwa’u Umar, on Sunday told newsmen that the initiative was implemented by EU and implemented by UNICEF.

According to her, the initiative is implemented in four Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Jega, Argungu, Birnin Kebbi and Fakai.

She explained that through the initiative, UNICEF have trained the mothers to reach out to other mothers on access to healthcare services in 47 wards in the four benefitting LGAs.

She added that the mothers were equipped with health care information on Ante Natal Care (ANC), Exclusive Breastfeeding, Routine Immunization (RI) etc mainly to create demand for the services.

Umar also revealed that, since the takeoff of the “Mama2Mama” programme and renovation of the facility by the EU, there has been an increase in client accessing the facility.

Umar, who also doubles as the in-charge of the PHC, explained that ANC attendance has increased with over 80 per cent, since the EU and UNICEF intervention.

She however, appealed to EU for more support in the areas of provision of uniform for the “Mama2Mama” volunteers, and other equipment for the PHC.

Corroborating, the in-charge of PHC Alelu, Safi’a Garba, thanked EU and UNICEF for what they have done through the programme, especially capacity building for health workers on Community Based Newborn Care (CBNC) among others.

She explained that, general attendants has risen from 443 in December 2018 to 528 by June and ANC attendant which was less than 130 in November 2018 was now over 175 as at June.

“In November 2018, we had 28 deliveries, but as we speak now, in June we had recorded 51 deliveries, Routine Immunization which was just about 149 in November, is now over 215 as at June.

“The intervention has really transformed they way we do things and how the people used to respond, even the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), have improved as a result of this.

“It has made our job very easy as health workers.

“I must sincerely commend the EU for this intervention and I will also want them to continue this support and even do more,’’ she said.

Garba, therefore appealed to EU, UNICEF and government for more support to the initiative.

He said the CSOs are happy with the way UNICEF was approaching the intervention by carrying them along, and emphasized the need for a more cordial relationship.

Garba therefore called for an expansion of the programme to all the 21 LGAs in the state since it is already working.

Earlier, a beneficiary of the initiative, Saudatu Auwal, said she was grateful to the organisation for helping her to know and understand why accessing healthcare centre was important.

“This is my third child, who I gave birth to with the help of “Mama2Mama” women who came to my house and ensured that I started coming for Ante Natal Care (ANC).

“I will also henceforth begin to encourage other women to go to healthcare centres for ANC and delivery.

“I thank EU and UNICEF for making this possible and I appeal that they should extend this to other places where the programme is not yet introduced,” she said.

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World Humanitarian Day: Red Cross seeks more support from Nigerians

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As the world marks World Humanitarian Day, the Red Cross Society has called on Nigerians and the government to support its activities, especially its efforts to meet the needs of people in humanitarian crisis.

Mr Nwakpa Nwakpa, Head, Communication and Advocacy unit of the organisation, made the call in an interview with Nigeria News Agency , on Monday in Abuja.

NAN reports that the World Humanitarian Day is marked globally in recognition of humanitarian personnel and those who lost their lives while working for humanitarian causes.

“It is also a day set aside to highlight humanitarian needs, the causes and how best such needs can be addressed,” Nwakpa told NAN.

He said that humanitarian needs vary from emergency responses, search and rescue, evacuations, disaster risk reduction and cash transfer programmes.

“Humanitarian needs range from life saving messages, First Aid and prison visits, promotion of detainee welfare, protecting civilians, supporting health services, helping those affected by armed conflict, reuniting family members who were missing, among others.

“This day, we are remembering the heroes who have paid the supreme price; those who died in the cause of saving other lives. They cannot be forgotten.

“We also recognise volunteers around the world, who are the first to respond to cases of emergencies, disasters, conflicts, flood, epidemics, among others.

“It is therefore important that Nigerians recognised the significance of the day, while honouring those who have contributed and offered support toward humanitarian causes,” he said.

He said that humanitarian needs in Nigeria and around the world were enormous, and called on government, well-meaning Nigerians, NGOs, and development partners to offer support.

Nwakpa, however, appealed to those affected or attacked in the cause of responses not to give up,  urging those offering support to also not get weary in doing good.

He further called on the government to ensure that humanitarian aid workers were protected from harm as required by the International Humanitarian Law.

Edited by Olabisi Akinbode and Ephraims Sheyin

 

 

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Council boss tasks residents to adopt healthier life styles, pledges support for riverine

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Mr Valentine Buraimoh, Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government in Lagos State has urged residents in the community to adopt healthier life styles to avert contracting non communicable diseases.

Buraimoh made the call on Monday at an event to mark his administration’s second year anniversary celebrations at Amuwo Odofin, Lagos.

According to him, many people ignore certain diseases such as high blood pressure and sugar levels that could kill them faster than HIV.

“We must take our health issues seriously; prevention is cheap but to cure is very expensive.

“Take preventive measures seriously so that if any ailment has been diagnosed, you can be aware of it, advised and guided on how to live a healthy life,” he said.

The council boss urged the people to take advantage of the health care services provided by the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in the LGA “where it is free to check blood pressure and sugar level.”

Buraimoh said that the council had initiated plans to construct a two-storey ultramodern PHC to provide more space for laboratories and other services that would cater for the healthcare needs of the community.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the council also organised a medical mission in collaboration with Benjamin Olowojebutu Foundation (BOF), an NGO, as part of the activities to mark the anniversary.

The programme, which will hold from Aug. 19 to Aug. 24, is aimed at providing healthcare services to about 10,000 people, not limited to Amuwo Odofin community alone.

The services include; free consultations, dental, eye, blood sugar and blood pressure checks, cervical screenings and free fibroid surgeries.

The medical checks will be done at the council complex while the fibroid surgeries will be carried out by a medical team from BOF, at the Amuwo Odofin Maternal and Child Centre (AOMCC).

Earlier, the Chairman donated an ultramodern surgical bed to the AOMCC, to aid the surgeries of about 50 Caesarean sections, done on an average, monthly at the hospital.

He also pledged to purchase a pickup truck for the PHC to help ease the movement of medications.

Buraimoh said that his administration had not abandoned the riverine communities in the council area, but was prioritising its projects to meet the socioeconomic needs of the populace.

“It’s not that we’re neglecting the other roads but we must function with the available resources at our disposal.

“We have to also consider the magnitude of users and the socioeconomic impact it has; you’ll start seeing government presence in the riverine communities.

NAN also reports that only 15 out of the 30 patients booked will have their surgeries done this week because of some observations made

Dr Benjamin Olowojebutu, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and Founder of BOF, commended the Local Government for the initiative to help lessen the pains of the society.

“Fibroid surgery is very expensive, it’s about half a million Naira on the mainland and one million Naira on the Island. It’s the first time we’re having a LGA tell us they want it for their people.

“We registered 300 cases and we’re able to do only 30 but the Chairman has agreed to make it a continuous thing,” he said.

NAN reports that six official vehicles were presented to some management staff of the council during the event.

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FG approves Labotary evaluation of HIV with rapid test kits

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The National Coordinator, National AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and Hepatitis Control Programme (NASCP) Dr Araoye Segilola, said this at the dissemination of the antibody rapid test kits in Abuja.

He said that the test kit was therefore, recommended as a first line kit in the National HIV testing algorithm.

He said that Nigeria did an evaluation of HIV rapid test kits using the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and got appropriate evaluation of HIV Testing Techniques in Africa, where three phases of evaluation were recommended.

“These phases are: phase, I Labotary based, phase II, Field based and phase III, continuous monitoring of the algorithm performance.

“National HIV testing algorithms were developed from these rounds of evaluation conducted and all the test kits are antibody based kits,” he said.

He disclosed that more than 1.9 million Nigerians were infected with HIV with about 1.1 million on Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART).

He noted that in order to meet the target for the first 90, Nigeria must have at least 1. 71 million people who know their status.

“Which means we need to test and identify up to 600, 000 HIV positive persons by Dec. 2020, 16 months from now.

“Obviously, the need for appropriate laboratory diagnostics and laboratory support for clinical decision and monitoring the effectiveness and safety of the regimens remain very important,’’ he stressed.

He noted that in Nigeria, like in many countries, detection of specific antibodies in the blood or other body fluids was the main method and standard procedure for diagnosing HIV infection.

“At one time in this country, several uncontrolled HIV test kits, especially rapid test kits, were used without any regard to quality or following any appropriate testing strategy, which increased the possibility of misdiagnosis of HIV infection,” he said.

Segilola said the Federal Government considered these practices unacceptable and thus embarked on appropriate evaluation of HIV through rapid test kits.

Earlier in his remarks, the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Dr Sani Aliyu, said that HIV testing was often undermined by lack of confidentiality, stigma, shortage of counselors and proximity to testing centers.

Aliyu, who was represented by Dr Daniel Ndukwe, his Special Adviser on National Development Division of the Agency, said the test kits had the potential to circumvent these constraints.

He said the agency would continue to advocate ending mother to child transmission of HIV in Nigeria.

Aliyu said that the agency would also continue to mobilise government commitment at the highest level and champion the inclusion of services for the benefit of women and children.

Earlier, in her keynote address, Dr Deborah Odoh, the Deputy Director Treatment, Care and Support, said that HIV testing was the fulcrum of any HIV programme as it established the individual’s status.

Odoh, who was also represented by the Head of Prevention, Dr Akpan Nsebong, said the status would determine the subsequent package of prevention or treatment services that would benefit an individual.

“A person who tests negative is counseled on how to stay negative, while a person that tests positive is immediately linked to ART services.

`So the importance of providing accurate and reliable diagnosis, devoid of false negatives or false positive results, cannot be overemphasized,” Odoh said.

She, however, called on Nigerians to come together and support government in the fight against the scourge.

AIR/DOR

Edited by Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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World Humanitarian Day: Group wants NASS to increase resources for humanitarian assistance

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Women in Humanitarian Response in Nigeria Initiative (WiHRiN) has called on the National Assembly and its State counterparts to increase resources for humanitarian aids assistance.

The National Coordinator of the group, Mrs Mimidoo Achakpa Udongwo made the call in a statement to commemorate the World Humanitarian Day in Abuja.

The theme of the Day, ‘Women Humanitarian,’ is to honour women.

She said that the theme was long due, as women were always the first to respond during humanitarian crisis, saying that they risk their lives to assist children, the elderly, neighbours and other vulnerable groups.

“WiHRiN frowns at the continued infrastructural deficits in the country that has made more Nigerians vulnerable to natural disasters thereby requiring humanitarian assistance.

“We call on the National Assembly to increase the infrastructure budget for the benefit of ordinary Nigerian citizens.

“We lend our voice to the national call on the Nigerian security apparatus including the army, Air force, Navy, the Police and Civil Defence to ensure synergy and share ideas, programmes and projects to avoid working at cross purposes for the good of Nigeria and Nigerians.

She, however, said that government agencies should be accountable for their roles, so that advocacy plans could be deliberated and easier for national actors including women led CSOs to be involved in delivering humanitarian services with the relevant agencies.

Achakpa said that women humanitarians have dedicated their lives to helping people affected by crisis, adding that women make up a large number of those who risk their lives to save others.

” They are often the first to respond and the last to leave. These women deserve to be celebrated. They are needed today as much as ever to strengthen the global humanitarian response.

“WiHRiN, therefore, remembers and honours women in crises in Nigeria and throughout the world, with focus on the unsung heroines, who have long been working on the frontlines in their own communities in some of the most difficult terrains of the world,” she said.

Achakpa commended the efforts of women in humanitarian actors in Nigeria, who had toiled tirelessly behind the scenes to bring succour and humanitarian assistance to crisis affected populations.

“We remember today with sorrow, the humanitarian workers who have paid the ultimate price with their lives in the line of duty, especially the 37 Aid workers who lost their lives in the Northeast Nigeria.

“We also remember the courageous members of the Nigerian Armed forces, who have lost their lives while protecting conflict affected populations and keeping the environment accessible for humanitarian assistance,” she said.

Achakpa said about 35,000 Nigerians had lost their lives between 2009 and 2019 in the ongoing Northeast crisis as a result of conflicts, natural disasters and other humanitarian crisis in the country.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that WiHRiN is a platform for Women headed/women led civil society organisations (CSOs), providing humanitarian assistance in Nigeria.

 

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Economy: NGO advocates more investment in maternity sector

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March Health Care Initiative (MHI), an NGO, on Monday said investing in Nigeria’s maternity protection would produce a healthier and productive workforce as well as a stronger economy.

Mrs Olubunmi Aiyedun, the President, Maternal Adolescent and Reproductive Child Healthcare Initiative (MARCH Healthcare Initiative), disclosed this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.

She explained that breastfeeding was essential as it saves lives, improves women and children health, and boosts their intelligence and lifelong productivity, hence the need to invest in maternal and child healthcare.

“Most women are part of labour force and some in the formal workforce, thus improving maternity protection such as extending paid maternity leave and workplace support for breastfeeding would boost the low rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the country.

“Also mothers will provide their infants with the very best start to life leading to improved health, social and economy outcomes for Nigeria,’’ she explained.

Aiyedun said according to a recent report by the National Maternity Entitlement Survey “only nine per cent of organisations had a workplace breastfeeding policy.

“1.5 Per cent of public sector and 23 per cent of private sector organisations provide crèches or day care.

“While 72 per cent of women are in favour of extending national maternity leave policy.

“However, only 30 per cent of women take their entire maternity leave currently granted by legislation or employers,’’ she said.

Aiyedun listed factors that encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding after returning to work to include availability of breastfeeding room, provision of crèches, and breastfeeding breaks supported by the work place.

Others include reduction in hours while breastfeeding, nursing facilities and availability of nearby crèches to workplace.

She noted that policy makers, government entities and employers have a role to play in supporting and improving Nigeria’s maternity entitlements.

She said it was crucial that policy makers advocated for and support legislation that enable women to take advantage of sufficient and paid maternity leave.

Aiyedun maintained that it would also promote policies that support mothers and fathers after they return to work.

She said government entities should develop monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to ensure organisations offer consistent benefits and engage informal sector to create supportive environment for women.

She added that government entities should require organisations to educate and inform employees about all policies and benefits.

Aiyedun further mentioned that employees must also ensure consistency with national and states policies to offer private breastfeeding rooms, flexible hours and breastfeeding breaks within official policies.

She said if such polices were fully implemented, it would lead to reduction in child mortality, better mental and physical health for mothers, absenteeism would reduce while productivity increased with job satisfaction.

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