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Elevating Women’s Voices for Quality Maternal Healthcare 

Studies have shown that elevating women’s voices could be used to reduce Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate, which remains a public health concern, and ensure quality maternal healthcare.

According to Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2018, the country has a maternal mortality rate of 512 women per 100,000 live births, which accounts for 20 percent of global maternal deaths.

Stakeholders in this sector are unanimous that the high number of women who die while giving life, calls for immediate attention and collaboration by all stakeholders (including the private sector, public agencies, civil society organizations, donors, and multinationals) to change the current negative outcomes of women when giving birth in Nigeria.

As part of efforts to advocate maternal health programs and services that incorporate and center on women’s experiences and perspectives to improve the quality of maternal care and to commemorate International Women’s Month, the Nigeria Health Watch, on Friday, held the second edition of ‘Celebrating Womanhood Art Gala’ themed “Elevating Women’s Voices for Quality Maternal Healthcare”, in Abuja.

Its theme acknowledges that women’s perspectives, insights, needs, and experiences are frequently overlooked in decision-making, policy design, and implementation.

In a remark, Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch, Vivianne Ihekweazu said: “Progress in ensuring that quality improvements are incorporated into maternal healthcare service delivery will be impossible unless women’s voices and experiences are heard when developing policies.

“A woman’s perception of the care she receives is an integral part of her clinical experience and therefore, an important consideration in improving the quality of maternity care. Maternity care that focuses on women’s needs and treats women respectfully is likely to lead to greater satisfaction as well as better and more equitable health outcomes.”

The gala allowed guests to participate both physically and virtually through the Nigeria Health Watch website and social media platforms, allowing art lovers and interested stakeholders from around the world to interact with the artwork.

The art gala was organized with support from the National Gallery of Art (NGA) and the Female Artists Association of Nigeria (FEAAN) which have curated art pieces from selected female artists.

Nigeria Health Watch held its first #HealthMeetsArt, Celebrating Womanhood Art Gala in 2021. Art has been used to record history, shape culture, cultivate imagination, and encourage individual and social transformation.

Recognizing this, the organization used creative art to raise awareness and motivate stakeholders to take action on maternal health and other gender-related issues.

The Celebrating Womanhood art gala brought together stakeholders from various sectors to raise awareness and provide a platform for discussion on maternal health in Nigeria, as they understand that issues relating to maternal health affect individuals from various sectors directly or indirectly.

The first lady of Kebbi State and Chief Executive, of Medicaid Cancer Foundation, Dr. Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu, said: “We have a lot of maternal health issues in Nigeria but through interventions, we are not doing so badly, we are improving some of our indices. We are using community development programs with partners to bring change to women.

The maternal health clinics offer improved opportunities to get cervical cancer screening. The outcomes we are seeing are enormous. Leveraging on this can impact our cervical control program.”

Director of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Dr. Ngozi Azodoh, said: “Women’s voices are important. I believe that women are powerful; we just need to remind them. We must remind mothers that they are so powerful; they can change the world. When we have the opportunity, we must create opportunities for other women to speak up, and take them to rightful positions.

At the FMoH, we mentor young women. As a mother and wife, your platform is endless. Women are the neck that turns the head. As a sister, we stand in the gap all the time. Let us remind ourselves how powerful we are and can be.”

Resident Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria, Ms. Ulla Elisabeth Mueller, said: “The power of what you are seeing today is that of voices. I hope that the power of the arts and voices see. Today will be a reminder of how many women die giving birth. I hope that we will bear that in mind and lend our voices to save our sisters, friends, mothers, etc.”

Country Director PLAN International Nigeria, Dr. Charles Usie, said: “We want to celebrate womanhood in a very special way- in the office, our first assignment is to ensure that our lives reflect women’s empowerment. For us is a connection that influences our everyday lives.

Women’s issue is not a good thing to talk about but the right thing. We believe the issue women go through should be a thing of priority. Women should earn more in the allowance we pay for food contingencies. The women will need to take care of.

 

Culled from Guardian NG.

 

Dare Akogun

Dare Akogun is a dynamic media innovator, strategic communication professional, and seasoned climate and environmental sustainability journalist with over 10 years of influential contributions to the media industry.

He Currently serving as the Head of Digital Media, Senior News Editor, and a presenter at Sobi FM 101.9, a leading radio station in Ilorin, Nigeria.

Dare is on a mission to leverage his media innovation expertise and project management skills to produce high-quality, accurate, and engaging content, while advocating for reduced fossil fuel consumption, especially coal, to combat effect of global warming.

He has covered comprehensively environmental issues and COP conferences, including COP28 in Dubai last year , COP 27 in Egypt, and the United Nations Least Developed Countries conference in Doha, in 2023.

He is a recipient of fellowship to be part of a 15 team of journalists selected worldwide to cover the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2024.

He has a Master's Degree in Mass Communication, from the University of Lagos, a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the Lagos State University and also a
Certification in Business Administration and Management, from the Babson College, Massachusetts, United States of America.

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