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Thoughts of our founder Toyin Saraki as she marks 48th birthday

September 6th, 2012 by WBF

As I mark my 48th birthday I re-dedicate and reinforce my commitments to advocating for the attainment of Millennium Development Goals for women and children in Africa.

I offer my heartfelt gratitude to Almighty God for the greatest gifts of all, life, love, health, enlightenment, happiness, rights, education, family and friendship, peace and tolerance!

May we all be blessed!

Amen

A Step to Deliver on Family Planning: Community Based Access to Injectable Contraceptives By: H.E. Toyin Saraki, Chairperson of White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria Board of Directors

July 27th, 2012 by WBF
Minister of Health - Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu and HE Mrs. Toyin Saraki Founder-President Wellbeing Foundation

Chairperson of White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria Board of Directors H.E Toyin Saraki congratulates Nigeria's Honourable Minister of Health Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu on a policy change enabling community based access to injectable contraceptives

One week after the after the Nigerian Government committed to tripling the current  funding for family planning at the London Summit on Family Planning, I had the privilege to congratulate the Nigerian National Council on Health for taking a monumental step to support this commitment.  On Thursday, the National Council on Health approved a task sharing policy that will allow community health extension workers to provide injectable contraceptives in communities.

Before now the country’s reproductive health and family planning service protocols and guidelines allowed only doctors, nurses and midwives to provide injectable contraceptives while community health extension workers were only allowed to provide condoms and contraceptive pills in the community. This policy prevented many women in rural communities from accessing injectable contraceptives which is the preferred method (National Demographic & Health Survey).

One can only begin to imagine the effect this policy has had on the maternal health status of women in rural communities. Approximately one out of five women who intend to limit or space their pregnancies don’t have access to family planning services. This is because health workers who can provide family planning services and health facilities where women can access these services are too few and too far. Moreover, cultural, religious and gender barriers have contributed to worsening this scenario.

Hence the need for an innovation that will bring family planning services privately to the doorstep of rural women: community based access to injectable contraceptives. FHI360 piloted this innovation in 10 rural communities in Funakaye and Yamaltu/Deba Local Government Areas in Gombe state. The pilot findings showed that community health extension workers provided injectable contraceptives to women either in their homes or in the provider’s homes without any report of injury or injection morbidities. More importantly, women preferred community based access to injectable contraceptives to facility provision. These findings provided evidence for a policy change.

However, the policy change met strong opposition during the technical sessions of the National Council of Health annual meeting. As usual, professional competition among health workers and socio-cultural barriers that favor population increase threatened the approval of this policy change.

Civil society organizations, led by White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria (WRAN) and FHI360 were relentless in advocating for the new policy. After coordinating individual meetings with the Federal Ministry of Health and the State Commissioners to make the case for passage of this policy, the memo that recommended policy changes to enable community based access to injectable contraceptives was reconsidered and unanimously approved by the National Council of Health.

While we celebrate this monumental step to deliver for family planning, we urge the Federal Ministry of Health to review the curriculum for community health extension workers to ensure they are properly trained to deliver these beneficial services at the community level, and to provide guidance to State Governments on implementing this policy change. We also urge donors to join the Government in supporting state level implementation.

When you empower a woman, you empower a nation — Toyin Saraki

May 8th, 2012 by WBF
Toyin Saraki Speaks at UNGA

WBF Founder-President Mrs. Toyin Saraki

Mrs. Toyin Saraki, President, Wellbeing Foundation Africa; Chair, White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria Board for Safe Motherhood; and wife of former Governor of Kwara State, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has curiously continued to demonstrate unrestrained commitment to nation building. Currently the President She is not discouraged by the incidence of no longer enjoying political patronage as governor’s wife. While her contemporaries have seemingly gone into oblivion, Toyin Saraki has intensified her passion for salvaging the vulnerable poor, developing and empowering a critical population segment of human capital imperative to socio-economic growth and development – Mother and Child. In this interview with SUNDAY ODIBASHI, she laments that approximately 241,000 newborns die in the first month of life, 33,000 mothers die from pregnancy and childbirth complications and one million children die before their fifth birthdays every year in Nigeria.

WHAT was your inspiration for involving in humanitarian and philanthropic services?

My inspiration for committing my efforts to humanitarian and philanthropic services stems from my upbringing, my personal experience, my knowledge that education both enlightens and saves lives and my desire to help those in disadvantaged positions live empowered and fruitful lives.

I am repeatedly inspired into action too by the dedication of others, and thus forge strategic partnerships for concerted action. One example is the huge contribution made by midwives and traditional birth attendants to the survival and well being of women and children throughout Africa at the very frontline. With the “International Day of The Midwife” coming up on May 8th, 2012, I will be highlighting these efforts and seeking to ensure that through our midwives, we continue to save and enhance lives by enlightening our women better about the benefits of a properly planned reproductive life.

You seem to have deep emotion about the plight of the poor, why do you choose to concentrate on mother and child healthcare?

I am very passionate about alleviating the poverty burden affecting approximately 102 million people in this country; with the majority of these people being women and mothers. Due to the responsibilities that come with managing a home, also known as social reproduction, coupled with limited access to economic opportunities, women and children constitute the vast majority of the poor in many developing countries. However, it is a fact that the most vulnerable periods for women and children are during pregnancy, childbirth, the newborn period and the first five years of life. That is why I have focused particular effort on this particular area of human vulnerability, maternal newborn and child survival. Unfortunately, many are unaware that every year in Nigeria alone, approximately 241,000 newborns die in the first month of life, 33,000 mothers die from pregnancy and childbirth complications and one million children die before their fifth birthdays.

I have always said that when you empower a woman, you empower a nation. An empowered woman is a health-seeking woman for herself, her children, her family and her community. Improving the health opportunities afforded to this subset will inevitably improve human capital in the country.

Years after vacating office as First Lady and Wife of the Governor of Kwara State, you still maintain your NGO; what is still motivating you at a time your contemporaries have abandoned their pet projects?

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, an Africa-focused Maternal Newborn and Child Health empowerment organization, has always been more than a ‘pet project’ for me. I have always been inclined towards contributing to sustainable development in Nigeria, and Africa. Improving the public healthcare system and providing adequate training for health professionals will not only empower women and children but will advance the country and the continent, as a whole. However,  I am motivated to address systematic failures in public health by my own personal loss during childbirth while at the mercy of the Nigerian healthcare system, and by the innumerable lives that the Wellbeing Foundation Africa has touched in its advocacy efforts. I am absolutely committed to helping every woman and every child in Africa attain the Millennium Development Goals, particularly MDGs 3, 4, and 5 by 2015 through the Wellbeing Foundation Africa 24-7-365 MDG Countdown to 2015 Advocacy Campaign.

How are you coping with the challenges of generating funds to implement your programmes?

With a combination of faith in our vision, dedication and fund raising,  all programs under the Wellbeing Foundation Africa will be successfully funded. The Wellbeing Foundation Africa has a solid  track-record of advocacy and action through the development of sustainable and replicable models, tools and resources such as the WBF IMNCH Personal Health Record PHR©; that is, individuals and organizations that support our vision can see the work we have done, which makes it easier to receive financing.

Notwithstanding, now that we have extended our scope throughout the African region, we are actively working on generating new sources of multi-sector funding for our future maternal newborn and child health initiatives and advocacy campaigns because in order to properly address the particular challenges faced by African women and children, solutions should and will be generated and driven by African sources of funding, African-driven and Africa-focused organizations.

What impact would you say your organization has made on the target population?

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa has currently improved the lives of over 200,000 women and children through the distribution of the WBFA Integrated Maternal Newborn and Child Health Personal Health Record (PHR)© which has put a tangible Millennium Development Goal attainment tool in the hands of women, children and health service providers. The PHR©, which we aim to disseminate to 5.3 million women by 2015, empowers women with a documented record of their medical conditions, every stage in their pregnancy, and the life of their child for the first five years; giving them prompt access to the right care from properly informed health professionals.

Our other programs such as the Alaafia Kwara Indigent Medical Fund WBF-AK IMF, the Alaafia Kwara Twins and Multiple Births Assistance WBF-AK TAMBA, and the WBF-AK Positive Lifeline for PLWHA, have assisted and empowered thousands of frontline beneficiaries and communities in Kwara State annually and continue to do so. We are particularly proud of our successful WBF-AK educational model of Integrated Faith-Based and Universal Basic Education For Community Development established in 2004, the first of its kind in Nigeria, at the Al-Muwahideen Nursery-Primary School, Kwara State, and our participation in the unique Kwara State Community Health Insurance Model, through our Public-Private-Partnership For Health at Alaafia Kwara Health point  Resource Access Unit at Iyana Bacita, Kwara State.

How would you consider your new call for higher humanitarian duties when you were elected the Chair of White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria Board?

I have long been an ordinary and active member of the White Ribbon Alliance, both globally and nationally, and served as a White Ribbon Alliance National MNCH Champion for years. I am thus honoured and privileged to have been elected the Chair of the White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria (WRAN) Board and I am certain that this platform will amplify the efforts and voices of those making a difference while consolidating the structure and programs of WRAN and its constituent member organisations. Through WRAN, maternal newborn and child health advocates will be able to build upon pre-existing frameworks in order to strengthen the collective efforts of the alliance. As the Chair of WRAN’s Board, I am committed to seeing that WRAN members work together in holding government and stakeholders accountable for the lives of women and children in Nigeria.

Do you think achieving the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Nigeria is realisable?

Yes, I do think that the 2015 Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria is realisable and realistic with accelerated action. The Wellbeing Foundation Africa is working hard to achieve the MDGs with special focus on Goals 3, 4 and 5 which are centred on reducing maternal and child mortality and the eradication of gender violence, while we have embraced targeted action towards the MDGs and beyond through our WBF Africa 24-7-365 MDG Countdown to 2015 Advocacy Campaign for The United Nations Secretary General’s Every Woman Every Child effort.

What is your assessment of women empowerment for political participation in Nigeria?

At all levels of government, we are seeing more women playing active roles. This is a testament to the success of women empowerment for political participation in Nigeria. Yet, I believe that more women need to get involved in the political and judicial fields in order to bring issues pertaining to the rights of women and children to the forefront.

Increased female participation in democratic engagement will bring benefit in addressing these issues, and additionally improve the literal, tangible and figurative health of the nation as many international development statistics analyse and demonstrate the advancement and functionality of a country via the socio-economic status of its women and children. We fully support capacity building initiatives for women at all levels from the grassroots to the highest levels of leadership.

See link to full interview http://www.nationaldailyngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4150:when-you-empower-a-woman-you-empower-a-nation-toyin-saraki&catid=351:politics&Itemid=554

Wellbeing Foundation Africa Congratulates World Bank Presidency Candidates

April 21st, 2012 by WBF

As a pan-African maternal newborn and child health empowerment organization, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa joins the international community in congratulating Dr. Jim Yong Kim in his appointment as the President of the World Bank. Being an advocate of reform and change in the health sectors of many of the world’s poorest countries, we are confident that Dr. Jim Yong Kim will make invaluable contributions in the fight against poverty while promoting development worldwide. With his global experience and astute track-record in treating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the developing world, we look forward to sustainable solutions and developments from the World Bank under his leadership.

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa also applauses Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s excellent World Bank campaign which challenged the norms and did Africa proud. Her efforts and dedication to international development is a great example to every one of us and it has evidenced that there are no limits for the African woman. Once again, we congratulate the newly appointed leadership of the World Bank and remain optimistic about the progress that will be made under the direction of Dr. Jim Yong Kim.

Wellbeing Foundation Africa to Attend Africa Regional MNCH Meeting and Women Deliver Regional Conference in Kampala, Uganda

March 26th, 2012 by WBF

Under the leadership of Founder-President Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki, the Wellbeing Foundation, an Africa-focused Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) NGO, will be attending the Africa Regional MNCH advocacy strategy implementation meeting, the Women Deliver regional meeting, and a private sector dinner/reception in support of the United Nations Every Woman Every Child effort from the 26th to the 28th of March 2012 in Kampala, Uganda. Her Excellency Mrs. Saraki will be speaking at the Every Woman Every Child reception on the progress made by the private sector, while highlighting the impact of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s Integrated Maternal Newborn and Child Health Personal Health Record©.

The Africa RMNCH meeting, which will take place on the 26th of March, is set to focus on the implementation of an Africa integrated RMNCH strategy; aligning regional and global advocacy strategies and frameworks to address reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. The expected outcomes of this meeting include improved alignment of global and Africa regional campaigns and commitments; stronger national-regional advocacy collaboration and partnerships; and an introduction to key advocacy tools for national and regional advocacy on RMNCH, including new national data from the Millennium Development Goals Countdown to 2015.

The Women Deliver regional meeting, which holds on the 27th to the 28th of March, will be themed ‘Achieving MDG 5; Challenges, Opportunities and Lessons Learned.’ Those in attendance will include Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki, President-Founder, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa; Jill Sheffield, President, Women Deliver; Dr. Olawale Maiyegun, Director, African Union Commission; and Ms. Janet Jackson, Country Representative, UNFPA. This two-day meeting willaddress prioritising girls and women in post-2015 framework and more.

Following the last session of the Women Deliver first day, a reception in support of the United Nations Secretary General’s Every Woman Every Child effort will be convened for all of the attendees of the regional consultation. The reception, themed ‘Technological Innovations and Sustainable Development for Women’s and Children’s Health in Africa,’ will be a festive gathering with live cultural performances as well as an interactive and informative opportunity to learn about Every Woman Every Child and the remarkable spectrum of innovative products and tools developed to address women’s and children’s health challenges. At the private sector dinner following the reception, Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki will discuss the progress made by the private sector by means of the WBFAIMNCH Personal Health Record©—a lifesaving tool which has empowered the lives of over 200,000 women and children, while noting the latest MNCH solutions and projects.

Signed: Lore Dada
Communications

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa

Wellbeing Foundation Africa Advocates for the Eradication of Gender-Based Violence in Peace One Day Global Truce 2012 Campaign Press Launch

March 23rd, 2012 by WBF

L-R WBFA Founder H.E Mrs. Toyin Saraki, Thandi Newton, Jeremy Gilley, Jude Law and Rt. Hon Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC

As a commitment to end gender-based violence worldwide, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa participated in the March 21st press launch of the Global Truce 2012 campaign, ‘Reducing Domestic Violence’, hosted by Peace One Day in conjunction with the Eliminate Domestic Violence Global Foundation (EDV). The Global Truce 2012 campaign press launch, which took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London, brought together an international coalition of advocates taking a stance to eradicate gender-based violence worldwide, while stimulating action and awareness prior to Peace Day 2012, a day of ceasefire and non-violence. At this event, Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki, the Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and the Global Foundation For The Elimination of Domestic Violence Africa Representative, addressed both the problem of gender-based violence and its potential solutions.

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Wellbeing Foundation Africa Creates Awareness on World Down Syndrome Day

March 21st, 2012 by WBF

In recognition of the 7th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day on the 21st of March 2012, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), a leading pan-African maternal newborn and child health (MNCH) advocacy and empowerment organization, urges public and private healthcare providers to equip hospitals and clinics with amenities necessary to facilitate prenatal testing that will aid in the diagnosis of Down syndrome. This year will mark the first time World Down Syndrome Day will be officially observed by the United Nations.

All around the world, millions of individuals are fighting against the stigma and exclusion that comes with living with Down syndrome as many communities are not cognisant of the complexities of the disorder and are unaware of the vital contributions that those living with Down syndrome make to society. The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, promulgators of change and awareness, recently sponsored members of the Nigerian Special Olympics swim team who won gold, silver and bronze medals at the World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.

A genetic chromosomal disorder, Down syndrome affects approximately one in seven hundred live births with older women having a higher risk of giving birth to children with the disorder. Causing various physical and mental complications including flattened facial features, heart defects and learning disabilities, Down syndrome can be diagnosed prenatally during pregnancy using several different tests including ultrasounds, amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Unfortunately however, many health care providers in Nigeria and other countries in Africa lack the technical capacity and equipment to conduct diagnostics that will inform expectant mothers of their child’s health during pregnancy.

In addition to encouraging the success of those living with the congenital disorder, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa has included an optional Down syndrome special growth chart, developed by the Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group, in its revolutionary WBFA Integrated Maternal Newborn and Child Health Personal Health Record (PHR)©. A simple yet effective tool that will help achieve United Nations Millennium Development Goals 3, 4 and 5, the PHR© provides pregnant women with a documented record of their medical conditions, every stage in their pregnancy, and the life of their child for the first 5 years. With this tool, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa is working to ensure that all mothers receive a full continuum of care from well informed healthcare professionals. Given that children born with Down syndrome have special health needs such as heart and intestinal abnormalities, the Personal Health Records© with the Down syndrome special growth chart takes the developmental trajectory of these children into account. Currently, the Personal Health Records© has empowered over 200,000 mothers in Nigeria with the Foundation committed to reaching a total of 5.3 million women by 2015.

On World Down Syndrome Day, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa not only calls for better equipped prenatal testing facilities across the continent, but encourages all communities to learn more about Down syndrome and embrace those living with the disorder.

Wellbeing Foundation Africa Featured on Radio Continental in Live Interview to Discuss Maternal Mortality

March 15th, 2012 by WBF

WBF Radio Continental Interview In honour of International Women’s Day, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa was invited to feature on Radio Continental’s ‘Woman’s Own’ talk show on Sunday, the 11th of March 2012 at 7pm in a live interview to discuss the topic of maternal mortality. As a leading Africa-focused NGO at the forefront of Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) advocacy on a global platform, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa is dedicated to sustainably developing communities, building capacities, and empowering women across the continent. With the dispersion of tools such as the WBFAIMNCH Personal Health Record©, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa has improved the lives of women by providing them with a documented record of their medical conditions, every stage in their pregnancy, and the life of their child for the first 5 years. This serves to reduce the maternal mortality rate as it gives women the opportunity to receive prompt, targeted, live-saving care from accurately informed health professionals. Through sustained and accelerated action, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa is also committed to achieving the 2015 Millennium Development Goals 3, 4,and 5 which focus on promoting gender equality and women empowerment, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health through numerous grassroots initiatives which partner community groups with the private sector. Radio Continental’s ‘Woman’s Own,’ a program that steadfastly uplifts women, is commended for its efforts in choosing to focus on the critical issue of maternal mortality which accounts for the loss of approximately one million lives in Nigeria annually. Through interviews with organizations such as the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Radio Continental is touching lives by harnessing much needed media engagement and participation in Maternal Newborn and Child Health. Representing the Wellbeing Foundation in Sunday’s live interview was Dr. Alero Ann Roberts (BSc MBBS MPH FMCPH), renowned paediatric and community health specialist and member of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa Advisory Board. In the accompanying interview recording, Dr. Roberts made the following key points on the topic of maternal mortality while discussing with Ms.FunmiFasunloye, the program presenter: 1. The Wellbeing Foundation strongly advocates for health service that women can trust will deliver for them. There needs to be universal access to effective, affordable health care that provides a continuum of care from the womb to the tomb – maternal, newborn, child, adolescent, adult and elderly. 2. The Wellbeing Foundation recognizes the need for strategic partnerships to deliver on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Given that the government cannot do it alone, there needs to be engagement of civil society and private sector organizations in a systematic and sustainable manner, using innovative financing schemes to actualize pro-poor policies; transitioning them from paper to practice. 3. The Wellbeing Foundation knows the way and manner to engage women at the grassroots, giving women a voice and a platform to demand their health, education and welfare rights so that they can deliver for the nation and not die doing so. 4. The Wellbeing Foundation encourages all pregnant women and mothers of young children to insist on their Personal Health Record©, which empowers them to get effective health care, and makes the government accountable for resources deployed to maternal, newborn and child health at local, state and federal level. 5. Lastly, the Wellbeing Foundation calls for all like-minded people to join hands and make a stand against the needless deaths of mothers and their infants and demand the full implementation of all strategies designed to enhance the survival of Every Woman, Every Child. Kindly take time to listen to the accompanying recording and contribute to the discussion on reducing maternal mortality. The Wellbeing Foundation Africa applauses the efforts of ‘Woman’s Own’ in creating awareness of this important issue and encourages the media to play a role in prioritizing Maternal Newborn and Child Health. The Foundation welcomes ideas and the opportunity to partner together in this regard as media engagement is an essential component to addressing the challenges facing women and children in Nigeria daily.

 

Dr. Alero Roberts

Dr. Alero Roberts

Dr Roberts started her professional medical career in private practice in 1985, rising from medical officer to hospital administrator of a private hospital in Lagos. After completing her MPH in 2000, she returned to academic life joining the University of Lagos as a lecturer in the then Institute of Primary Health Care, which has since evolved into the Department of Community Health and Primary Care. She has trained medical, dental and post-basic nursing students in her specialty – maternal, newborn and child health and has been involved in the practice of community care in rural communities in Lagos and Ogun states. She has been involved at several times in the training of medical and healthcare workers at state and federal levels, conducting workshops and training seminars for Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and the Federal Ministry of Health.

She served a short stint as personal assistant to Prof Grange, one-time Minister of Health of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. She is presently the technical consultant for Stronghold Support Services, a healthcare sector support and logistics company presently involved in the development of the personal health record book, a tool designed to improve health information management at point of care for pregnant women and children under five. She serves on several boards including the Wellbeing Foundation, a non-governmental organisation globally renowned for advocating for universal access to effective and affordable health care for mothers and children.
Her research interests include developmental delays and learning difficulties, home and community-based management of childhood illnesses and sustainable capacity-building of healthcare professionals.

 

Engaging MPs: Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Members of White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria Appeal to Senate and House of Reps to Improve Maternal and Child Health on International Women’s Day

March 12th, 2012 by WBF

On International Women’s Day, the White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria (WRAN) chairedby Her Excellency Mrs.ToyinSaraki, the Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, spearheaded an advocacy initiative to receive concrete commitments from individual parliament members in a letter requesting the Nigerian Senate and members of the House of Representatives to make reducing maternal and infant mortality a priority within government.

In an effort to instigate political action regarding improvements in Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) in Nigeria, members of WRAN—a national constituent of a global organization working in over 150 countries to advocate for the prevention of needless deaths in pregnancy and childbirth, paid visit to the National Assembly on the 8th of March 2012 to discuss issues regarding women and child health, and engage the Nigerian parliamentarians ahead of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly taking place in Kampala, Uganda at the end of the month. The WRAN member organizations represented at the visit included the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Save the Children, the Zamfara Wellwoman Initiative, and the Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria. Also in attendance were WRAN supporters and Board members including Her Excellency Aisha Babangida Shinkafi, the wife of the former governor of Zamfara State and head of the Zamfara Wellwoman Initative, as well as Dr. Benjamin Anyene and Hadiza Aminu Dorayi.

Working in fulfillment of the Global White Ribbon Alliance’s ‘Action of the Month’ which calls for all alliance members to engage policy makers and local leaders to demonstrate the power of leaders and advocates collaborating to improve maternal health in celebration of International Women’s Day and in preparation for the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, WRAN has made strides on both the national and state level. According to WRAN’sInternational Women’s Day activity report facilitated by Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki and the WRAN National Coordinator, the chair of the Senate Committee of Health Senator Gyang Dalyop communicated that the president has earmarked 30 million USD for the eradication of polio this year while the government is actively trying to improve the National Health Insurance Scheme in order to save the lives of women and children during pregnancy and childbirth. Moreover, Senator Gyang added that over 15 billion naira has been set aside for MNCH from savings intended to be made from the recent fuel subsidy removal. The Senator then assured WRAN delegates that all oversights in the area of maternal health will be covered by the Health Committee and that there will be a reduction in Nigeria’s high maternal mortality rate by the year’s end.

At the WRAN Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the 24th of February 2012, Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki—the chair of the Board and the Founder of WBF Africa, urged WRAN members to work together in holding government and stakeholders accountable for the lives of women and children in Nigeria; and the meetings at the National Assembly were testament of Her Excellency’s commitment to mobilizing, taking action and reducing preventable deaths that can be avoided through technical and operational improvements in Nigeria’s healthcare system.

In the second National Assembly meeting of the day with the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House, HonourableTambuwal, commented that while poverty is the leading cause of deaths among women and children, the country has adopted domestic policies to address this and is currently working with NGOs and other organizations to this end; yet, integration is necessary to make MNCH efforts successful. Honourable Tambuwal also added that the House of Reps will constantly seek to make policies more effective and pledged that a Technical Working Group will be set up between WRAN and the House towards building partnership with the members of the House of Representatives.

At the State level, WRAN Board members also engaged state parliamentarians in a visit to the Chairman of the Enugu State House of Assembly Committee on Health, Dr. Emeka Ogbuabo. A recipient of the letter calling for MNCHparliamentarian action, Dr.Ogbuabo acknowledged the challenges in the Enugu State health sector and ensured that his committee will enact the Enugu State policy on free maternal and child into law.

The letters sent to the parliamentarians calling for action and commitment in addition to the meetings with the Senate and the House of Representatives on International Women’s Day is one of many steps to addressing negative national figures including the unfortunate statistic of approximately 800 out of every 100,000 women dying during live births in Nigeria. Therefore, the White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria in conjunction with the Wellbeing Foundation under the leadership of Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki will continue to take action to address systematic healthcare failures, highlight inappropriate policies, and see to the adequate training of health-workers while advocating for the provision of universal access to quality public healthcare for pregnant women and children in Nigeria.

 

Signed: Lore Dada

Communications

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa

Wellbeing Foundation Africa President Celebrates Women’s Achievements and Inspires Others at WIE Symposium London on International Women’s Day

March 12th, 2012 by WBF

In commemoration of the success and triumphs of women around the world on International Women’s Day, the Founder and President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki, articulated her vision for maternal newborn and child health (MNCH), and shared the Foundation’s goal of empowering the lives of 5.3 million women and children in Africa by 2015 at the Women: Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) Symposium which took place at The Hospital Club in London on the 8th of March 2012.

With an atmosphere filled with solidarity, inspiration and achievement, the WIE Symposium, under the general theme ‘Owning Your Success,’ brought together a diverse array of motivated women who shared their stories and exemplified their dedication to collectively achieving social change. Speaking on the ‘Unstoppable Woman’ panel at the day-long conference, Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki, who also participated in last year’s WIE Symposium in New York, expressed her commitment to transforming the lives of women in Nigeria, Africa, and around the world through the Wellbeing Foundation Africa.

Describing an unstoppable woman as “a woman who, despite all the challenges, is utterly committed to achieving her vision to transform lives wherever she is,” Mrs. Saraki’s unstoppable moment which led to the creation of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa in 2003 stemmed from tragedy.“When I lost one of my twin children during child birth, I soon realised that no matter who you are, what you have, you are at the mercy of the health system,” Her Excellency candidly stated. This heart-breaking incident then prompted the realization that the intrinsic flaws in the Nigerian healthcare system could only be addressed through practical action from all sectors—the public sector, the organised private sector, and civil society.

“My vision is to ensure that every woman and every child in Africa has their own personal individual health record and my intention is not to stop until that is so, for when you empower a woman you empower a nation; an empowered woman is a health-seeking woman, for herself, her children, her family and her community” Mrs. Toyin Saraki declared. To this end, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa is committed to saving the lives of 5.3 million women and children across Africa through the distribution of the WBFA IMNCH Personal Health Records© which empower women with a documented record of their medical conditions, every stage in their pregnancy, and the life of their child for the first 5 years; thus giving them prompt access to the right care from properly informed health professionals. “With the Personal Health Record©, we have put a tangible Millennium Development Goal attainment tool in the hands of women, children and health service providers,”Mrs. Saraki stated.

The annual WIE symposium brings together prominent leaders from the worlds of politics, business, fashion, philanthropy, media, entertainment and the arts, in a full day of lively panels, workshops, master-classes and an inspirational awards ceremony. Also speaking at the London event was Brigid McConville, Global Director of the White Ribbon Alliance—an international coalition of individuals and organizationsadvocating for the availability of life-saving healthcare that will prevent needless deaths that occur during childbirth daily. As a member of the ‘Dreams for My Daughter’ panel, the WRA Director alongside other advocates put maternal and infant mortality into perspective. “If the mother dies in a family, the whole social network falls apart…Women have been silent for too long,” said actress Diana Quick.

The White Ribbon Alliance’s ‘Dreams for My Daughter’ campaign, which was simultaneously celebrated on the 8th of March in an exhibition by renowned photographer Joanna Vestey at the Women of the World festival at the UK’s famous Southbank Centre, aims to give all daughters hope for a brighter future and shatter the vicious cycle of low education, poverty and child marriage in developing countries. Sharing her own dream for her daughter, McConville conveyed that she dreams her daughter will see deaths during childbirth and pregnancy as a thing of the past.

Having been elected chair of the White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria Board of Directors on the 23rd of February 2012, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa Founder- President Her Excellency Mrs.ToyinSaraki, the leading African Advocate for women’s health and empowerment through the Every Woman Every Child Effort of the United Nations Secretary General, also shares the dream of eradicating maternal and infant mortality. Having raised the national alarm on maternal mortality in Nigeria in 2004, she has worked tirelessly ever since to find practical multi-sector solutions and is actively creating strategic partnerships to ensure the attainment of UN Millennium Development Goals 3, 4, and 5 in commitment to MNCH. Forging beneficial multi-sector collaborative platforms under Mrs.Saraki’s leadership, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, a key African Philanthropic Organisation,continues to advocate for Africa-focused and Africa-driven life-saving universal access to quality public healthcare for pregnant women and children across the African continent.

Signed: Lore Dada
Communications, The Wellbeing Foundation Africa