In this report, Chima Akwaja, who was in Kaduna looks at efforts being made by the state government, in partnership with MTN Foundation, to give women more access to maternal healthcare.
The maxim that health is wealth has proven true for ages, especially because there is a strong connection between the development of a nation and the health of its citizens. Perhaps, it is for this reason that foremost English author, lord chesterfield said that good health is the first and the greatest of all liberties.
Maternal health is an integral part of the health of any nation and demands serious concern and thorough attention. This is because maternal health is one of the major worldwide health challenges, bringing untold pain and sorrow to a large number of women and their families. Currently, the worrying statistics of maternal mortality are a common subject in global health and development discussions. Although some countries have made remarkable progress, half of the maternal deaths in the world still take place in Sub-Saharan Africa where the level of progress made is less than impressive.
Fatima a resident of Jema’a local government, who commended the effort of the Kaduna State government in providing primary health care, maintained that more attention needs to be directed towards improving maternal health not just in Kaduna but in the country at large “Many pregnant women in the country still trek for miles to get to a health facility while some others endure labour for days which may lead to birth complications” she maintained.
Fatima was among the hundreds of pregnant women who gathered at the Ariwa House in Kaduna State, Thursday, when the MTN Foundation partnered the Kaduna State government to launch its MTN Foundation yellow heart initiative in the state.
Speaking on MTNF’s decision to support the Kaduna State government on this initiative, Director, MTN Foundation, Alhaji Danladi Mohammed said that the foundation is indeed excited to go into a partnership that brightens the lives of people, especially within the community where it operates. His words: “We take out time to identify with the plights of members of the community where we carry out our operations and we are sensitive to these plights. It is because of this that the foundation created a mandate to spend towards improving the state of healthcare, education and economic empowerment.
“Kaduna state is part of the six states selected for the MTNF Yellow Heart initiative, it is a laudable initiative and we are looking forward to a healthy collaboration with the government and the good people of Kaduna State. We hope to use the Yellow Heart initiative to address predominant issues such as attitude and cultural practice that hinder women and children from accessing healthcare services in the society”.
While appreciating the Foundation for the yellow heart initiative, Commissioner for Health in Kaduna State, Dr Paul Dogo, said that the state is very happy to partner with the foundation on the initiative, the commissioner who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Kaduna State Ministry of Health, Alhaji Shehu Usman said that the initiative is aligned with what the Kaduna State Government is doing to improve healthcare in the state.
“For the first time in the history of the state, we have a Government that is equipping and renovating 255 healthcare facilities across the state, when the government came on board the first bill that was passed was the bill to have primary health care under one roof, that is through an integrated approach. Since then the state Government has created specialized hospitals to cater to the varying healthcare needs of the people. These are some of the initiatives of the state Government towards improving healthcare in the state and we are happy about the yellow heart initiative which we promise to give our best support”, he said.
The Yellow heart launch in Kaduna featured a workshop where experts encouraged mothers and expectant mothers to exclusively breastfeed their newborns and ensure adequate routine immunization for them to protect them from preventable childhood diseases.
Aminat, a mother of two in Kaduna, said she would have lost her second baby during delivery. “I was in labor for two days. on the third day I was told that I had no choice than to opt for CS, even though I thank God for safe delivery, I know that so many other persons in my situation may have lost their babies in the process.” I’m grateful to MTN Foundation for an intervention like this, Today I have learned a lot about family planning options and why giving birth at the hospital doesn’t make you a weak woman as opposed to the widely held belief in this part of the country”, she said.
Commenting on what the partnership means for the state, Wife of the deputy governor of Kaduna State, Madam Ladi Barnabas, said that the initiative would immensely help to improve the health and survival rate of women and children in Kaduna State. She urged women to come out en-masse for the health awareness walk scheduled for Saturday, 7th.
Kaduna is part of six other states selected for the MTNF Yellow Heart initiative, after its launch in Abuja. The other states are Ogun, Oyo, Abia, Niger and Cross-River.