Recently a civic organization, the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), presented its research titled; Towering Hopes and Aborted Dreams: Assessing the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Government Spending on Maternal, New-born and Child Healthcare in Kano State. The organisation’s helmsman, Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi in his address at the presentation lamented the devastating impact of maternal deaths on the lives of women.
The report brought to the fore revealing facts, emotions, and pains faced by communities with high levels of maternal mortality. The core of the research was to look into how the spending of funds on maternal care affects the women and new born. It is a report many appreciated and recommended for governments health institutions both at the Centre, States and Local Councils to embrace, study and make use of the solutions therein to save lives.
One of the speakers, Alhaji Musa Garba, the Chairperson of the CHRICED Advocacy Committee on Maternal Health and former Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information, Kano State, expressed anger at the way men treat women generally and during pregnancy. He said men deny their wives affection and care; why then do they marry the women he queried?
“Men hardly assist the woman in home chores, they allow their wives go through stress while carrying their babies. Since we (men) enjoy sex, he continued, let us also enjoy caring for the women who give us this sex. These women are our mothers, sisters, daughters, we should show them love and care, not only when we are on top of them moaning and making empty promises.” The former permanent secretary expressed the view that any man who treats his wife with levity, especially when she is pregnant, is certainly not helping society.
On her part, Hajiya Saudatu Mahdi, Executive Director WRAPA, who chaired the occasion, in her remarks argued that men must understand the women. She said women must be treated with respect and dignity as they are also human beings created by God. She emphasized that all the men gathered in the hall are products of women, men love their mothers, daughters, sisters, can die protecting them but disappointingly they cannot give such measure of sacrifice to their wives.
The keynote speaker at the public presentation, Dr. Amina Salihu, who titled her paper; A Hemorrhaging Nation: Tackling the Menace of Maternal and Child Deaths in Nigeria, made a presentation, which charged participants. She said part of the maternal health crisis stemmed from the lack of investment by successive governments, especially with respect to development issues. “With a little investment many lives would have been saved in this country. From research around the globe presently, Nigeria is the most unsafe place to be a woman. And that is enough to give the men, leaders in Nigeria headache. The decision to seek for medical care, even that which is strictly for women, is in the hands of men; that is very unfortunate. There is no dignity for our women in the hospitals, they just have to accept their faith.”
Other speakers at the event called on more groups like CHRICED to mobilise the people at the grassroots, who bear the most brunt for the failure of governance to tackle key issues such as maternal mortality. Participants called on stakeholders not to rest their oars but continue the sensitization and advocacy for better governance outcomes for the people of the country.
Speaker after speaker charged the most affected citizens to push forward in their demand for openness, transparency and accountability, as these are all critical actions, which would lead to lives being saved. One of the panel discussants noted that when governments are put on their toes, they have no other choice but to perform creditably to the advantage of the governed. Another point conclusion reached at the public presentation was the need for the massive investment in public education because it is at the root of the change citizens want to see.
Dr. Salihu made the point that education would empower citizens to check the excesses of leaders who ignore institutions, and allow health facilities to rot away. She said: “Part of the problem we have at our public health care institutions is because our public servants do not patronize them. Not until our public servants begin to use our public institutions, it is not going to get better.
“We can only take proper care of something we are part of, it is just a simple fact of life. She advised the coming together of the traditional and orthodox medicine as both will gain from either side. There are several countries still patronizing their traditional health methods and we have a responsibility to promote this in Nigeria.”
She encouraged CHRICED to work together with government, health institutions and other interested groups to stem the hemorrhage. She praised the group on this research and public presentation of its findings to help tackle the menace of maternal and child deaths in Nigeria. The event had in attendance Cosmas Olaniyan, Country Project Advisor, Misereor Dialogue and Partnership Services, Professor Abdulmumini Bala Ahmed of the Faculty of Law, Bayero University, Kano, Associate Professor Ismail Ibrahim of the University of Lagos, Hadiza Bala Fagge, and Dr. Dayyabu Mahmud Yusuf of the Maternal Neonatal and Child Care (MNCH) programme of the UK Department for International Development.