By: Our Correspondent
KEBBI, North-West, Nigeria – The European Union, (EU), and United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) has trained 2,115 mothers in Kebbi State to boost Maternal Newborn and Child Healthcare in the state.
The initiative tagged: “Mama2Mama” was launched in December, 2018, by the EU as support initiative to Kebbi State Government and is being implemented by UNICEF in four Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Jega, Argungu, Birnin Kebbi and Fakai.
The 2,115 beneficiary mothers were drawn from the 4 LGAs with the sole aim of reaching out to other mothers who have not accessed healthcare services in the 47 Wards of the benefitting LGAs.
They were equipped with healthcare information on Ante Natal Care (ANC), Exclusive Breastfeeding, Routine Immunization (RI), among others mainly to create demand for the services.
Hajiya Saudiatu Auwal, a mother of three, from Alelu Ward in Jega LGA, said she will forever be grateful to the organizations for equipping her with the needed knowledge and also exposed her to the importance of accessing healthcare centre.
“This is my third child, whom I gave birth to at the PHC, Alelu, through the help of “Mama2Mama” volunteers who came to my house and ensured I started attending ANC.
“The other two were given birth at home, with lots of pain. The volunteers brought me to the PHC, and I gave birth with ease. Since then, I have been enjoying healthcare services.
“I thank EU and UNICEF, for making this possible and I appeal for extension of this programme to other areas where it is not yet introduced,” she pleaded.
Also, 30 year-old Rukayya Aminu, a mother of six, said though she gave birth to some of her children at the General Hospital in Jega, but the Mama2Mama volunteers had rekindled her hope of attending ANC.
Another beneficiary, 8-month old pregnant woman in Magaji Ward, Jega LGA, said the programme volunteers met her seriously sick and weak at the time, and she was unwilling to attend ANC, but with their encouragement, she came and was attended to.
“I accepted to come because of the testimonies from women concerning the programme. Most of us do not like going to health centres until we fall sick, but the Mama2Mama volunteers opened my eyes to the need, and I realized that going to the health centre is in our best interest,” she said.
The Coordinator of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH), in Jega LGA, Hauwa’u Umar, disclosed that, since the take-off of the Mama2Mama programme and renovation of the facility by the EU, there has been an increased in patients accessing the facility.
Hauwa’u, who also doubled as the in-charge of the PHC, explained that ANC attendance has increased with over 80 per cent, since the EU, UNICEF intervention. She appealed for more support from EU in the areas of provision of uniform for the Mama2Mama volunteers, and other equipment for the PHC.
Similarly, the in-charge of PHC Alelu, Safi’a Garba, who thanked EU and UNICEF for the programme, especially in capacity building of health workers on Community Based Newborn Care (CBNC), Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCTC) of HIV/AIDS, amongst others, said the impact of the programme is being felt by the community.
She explained that, the general attendants have risen from 443 in December 2018 to 528 by June 2019. An ANC attendant which was less than 130 in November 2018 is now over 175 as at June 2019.
“In November 2018, we took 28 deliveries, but as I speak, in June we have recorded 51 deliveries. Even Routine Immunization, which was just about 149 in November, is now over 215 as at June.
“The intervention has really transformed the way we do things and the peoples’ response. Even the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), have improved as a result of this. It has eased our job as health workers.”
According to her, sometimes the volunteers are faced with lot of challenges, they spent from their pockets to enable them make their monthly visitation to review performances.
“And most of them come from remote areas, even after the sufferings we don’t have money to refresh them during the meeting, so I will call on the EU, UNICEF and government to kindly support us more,” she said.