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Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ 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.

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.

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

Monday, March 12th, 2012

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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

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25th): Toyin Saraki Calls for Multi-Sector Involvement in Protecting Women

Friday, November 25th, 2011

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Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, marked yearly on November 25, Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation and Trustee of the Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence (GFEDV), Mrs Toyin Saraki has said that the social and economic costs of violence against women are too enormous for any government to ignore. In a statement signed by her spokesman Mr. Yomi Owope, Saraki said that violence against women occurs across Africa, affecting millions of women in society, regardless of status, and that the socio-economic and psychological costs are unquantifiable.

“Many women are particularly at risk of abuse at home, school or work, especially in a society where there is a marked imbalance between men and women, and places where there are little or nopenalties against such behaviour.”

Mrs Saraki, who recently signed a Joint Accord against Domestic Violence in New York with other international campaigners for same during the UN General Assembly last September, also pointed to the psychosocial effects of domestic violence on the family unit especially on children as a major reason for strengthening laws which protect women against all forms of violence in Nigeria.

“We are well aware of the impact of domestic violence on children who grow up in such environments. They’re affected mentally, physically and often end up being violent themselves. It has also been proven that children who witness violence at home do not do well in school. This is indeed a global problem which is being addressed in some measure, but which needs the support and input of government, civil society and all women, regardless of race or class. People with influence in society and the private sector are not left out. Violence against our nation’s mothers and girls must stop and we all have a role to play. Furthermore, women should not be ashamed to talk about domestic violence especially if it is happening to them or someone they know,” Saraki said.

 

Editor’s Notes:

About The Wellbeing Foundation

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa is dedicated to the establishment and entrenchment of best practice in MNCH, as well as the improvement of the health systems in Nigeria and across Africa. In Nigeria the Wellbeing Foundation was responsible for lobbying for the new Nigerian Midwifery Service Scheme and the implementation of personal health records across Nigeria. The Foundation’s major commitment is the implementation of personal health records across Africa which the Foundation believes could have the single biggest impact on reducing child and maternal mortality and will move Africa towards attaining Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 & 6.

 

About The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

In 1999, the UN General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime – with the abuser usually someone known to her.

Women’s activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981. The date commemorates the brutal assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, in 1960 on orders of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).

Governments, international organizations and NGOs are invited to organize activities on the day to raise public awareness of the problem. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women also launches the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, which runs through to 10th December, Human Rights Day.

About GFEDV

Founded by Former UK Attorney General Baroness Scotland, The Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence is a non-profit organisation with the aim to eliminate domestic violence on a global scale working with other partners to become a leading resource in sharing knowledge to eliminate domestic violence.

Signed:

Yomi Owope

ANENIH, Others praise WellBeing Founder at dinner of UN Boss

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

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Founder of The Wellbeing Foundation and Chair of the National Health Campaign, Mrs Toyin Saraki was on Monday night severally praised for her contribution to the improvement of the situation of women and children in the country,
The recognition which came from various speakers was capped with the vote of thanks by the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Josephine Anenih who described Mrs Saraki has one of
the most passionate about the wellbeing of women and children especially as it concerned survival. She thanked Mrs Saraki for her constant reminder to the society on the need to ensure that women and children do not die unnecessarily.