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Archive for the ‘Community Development’ Category

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

Friday, July 27th, 2012

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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

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

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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 Creates Awareness on World Down Syndrome Day

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

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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.

World AIDS Day: The Wellbeing Foundation Adopts the “Getting to Zero” Campaign Theme

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

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With more than 34 million people living with HIV and over 22 million of that number in Africa, the Wellbeing Foundation has adopted the global “Getting to Zero” mission of the World AIDS Campaign ahead of World AIDS Day today. With a direct and forthright theme, the campaign states that by 2015, the world should have, Zero AIDS Related Deaths, Zero New Infections and Zero Discrimination.

The Wellbeing Foundation runs The Positive Lifeline Initiative, a regular care and support program under which people living with HIV/AIDS receive medical and financial support, nutritional and vitamin supplements, including counseling and follow up. The Foundation also works at the front-lines, developing programs for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV, making the main focus of its HIV Programs preventive, rather than palliative.

WBF has noted that while unprecedented global attention and intervention efforts have slowed the rate of new HIV infections and made significant difference to the prevalence of the disease in some countries and regions, the total number of people living with HIV continues to rise.

The Wellbeing Foundation has therefore joined the global voice calling for Governments to do the right thing and live up to the financial pledges they have made, otherwise the “Getting to Zero” mission will not happen by 2015 and millions of people will continue to die.

“The 2010 Global AIDS Report by UNAIDS shows that treatment scale-up is beginning to deliver results, both in averting AIDS-related deaths (an estimated 2.5 million since 1995) and in halting  new infections (at their lowest levels since 1997). This is therefore the time for us to increase our efforts to achieve universal access to treatment and build momentum towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (Goal 6) with regards to HIV and AIDS.”

 

 


Every Woman Every Child Initiative Launches in Nigeria

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

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On Monday 18th July, The UN Foundation in partnership with the Wellbeing Foundation will host the launch of the Every Woman Every Child Private Sector Initiative in Nigeria.
The event aimed at the Private Sector will be held at The Southern Sun Hotel Ikoyi in Lagos, Nigeria by 11am and will be hosted by The Wellbeing Foundation and supported by The Tony Elumelu Foundation. The global Every Woman Every Child initiative, will invite Private Sector leaders in Nigeria to develop a unique Private Sector strategy to help Africa achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.