By Sylvester Enoghase – Lagos
Reviewing how the capacity building for media would helped to focus more attention on improving Maternal health accountability, especially the lives of the most vulnerable within the societies the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani has declared that targeting investment in skills development of media, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) would enhance their productivity in Nigeria
Rafsanjani, while calling on the three tiers of Governments’, the Federal, states and Local Government to initiate policies toward strengthening the capacity of various stakeholders , especially the media through an enabling platform to engage maternal accountability in the country during a two-day roundtable on Maternal Health among CSOs, legislative, executive and the media in Kaduna and Kano States organized by CISLAC with support from MacArthur Foundation also stressed that Civil Society Organisations, Community Based Organisations and the Media, have benefited immensely from CISLAC’s efforts toward maternal accountability in the country.
Whilst recognising the nation’s health related diseases challenge could be brought to the front burner through a sustained capacity building for media and other stakeholders, he said the use of social media as tool would create visibility for maternal mortality. He stressed that such measure would not only ensure an increased focus on enablers of economic development in the three tiers of Government levels in the country.
Continuing, he said the “particular meeting is considered to be crucial because it is one of its kinds, in the sense that it provides stakeholders such as you the opportunity to deliberate on this burning issue on maternal health, with the hope of securing commitment from the various stakeholders to perform better towards safeguarding the lives of our women/mothers/ daughters/sisters and indeed securing our future.”
Rafsanjani lamentation a situation where in Nigeria, one in 13 women die in pregnancy or childbirth, and 12 per cent of children die before reaching the age of five without adequate publicity to make the nation’s leaders come nearer to the mases
“A number of factors contribute on the poor maternal health services in the country. The challenges are complex and arise essentially from poor legal and regulatory frameworks, poor primary health care as well as economic and socio-cultural challenges”, he claimed.
Also, a dearth of infrastructure, health personnel and equipment, plague the Nigerian healthcare system going by records from the World Health Organisation (WHO) sows that in Nigeria, only 39 per cent of births take place with assistance of medical personnel.
“Coupled with the scarcity of skilled attendants, such absence of personnel impedes the effectiveness of health services by women”, he said.
Another major impediment to maternal health, he said, is attributed to corruption among the political class, or lack of political will to engage the process.
“It is in view of these that CISLAC, in partnership with MacArthur Foundation, seeks to advocate for proper actions as deemed fit by members in the National Assembly, members of the State executives, the CSOs and Media, that will enable us progress to eradicate maternal mortality”, he stressed.
He recalled the presentation by the Executive Director of CITAD, Mallam Y. Z. Ya’u describing the social media as shorthand for new communications technologies that use ICT media tools that are unique in three important ways to transcend time and space constraints.
The training, he said, “has made it clearer that ICTs are dynamic and fast changing, creating new platforms and services that have far reaching utility in social activism.”
He stressed that in the analysis of Mallam Ya’u, the adverse of social media in journalism has brought about the collapse of space and time; emergence of alternative media form; while eliminating borders in the dissemination of news. There is a growing demand, he said, for more open, accessible and informative news media, as well as the making of readers/listeners/audience as makers of their own news.
“Our ongoing capacity building that would take place in the six geo-political zones in the country would boost how the media would use the Social Media as a tool for news such as Smart phones, which allow for photograph, record audio and video and copy textual document that journalists can use to promote reporting of reproductive health issues in such ways as sending out tweets about news break or news items; use facebook to cultivate followers to assess and get feedback on how media can deliver digital content delivery: cuts cost and time”, he said.
Speaking on “The Role of Legislative Reporters in Repositioning Maternal Health within Kano State House of Assembly”, General Manager Operations of Freedom Radio Group, Kano Dr. Umar Saidu Tudunwada said “journalists and parliaments share some important roles that give them the capacity to impact on public life. They are whistle blowers, and because of their oversight functions, their words are taken seriously. A collective effort between the media and parliament, would surely guarantee a sustainable attention and appropriate priority placed on maternal health issues.”
He reiterated that the media engaged in parliamentary coverage, has the duty to disseminate information between the public and their representatives; just as trained journalists should help the public to better understand various laws passed by legislators, and how such legislation could affect them. The media, he noted, must continue playing their role of agenda setting by emphasising important issues covered in the media, until they become are registered in the sub-consciousness of the people as issues of priority importance.
Dr. Tudunwada said capacity building in the media could bring to the limelight how maternal health is the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and afterwards including the health care dimensions of family planning, preconception, prenatal, and postnatal care in order to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality.
“It is sad to note that a woman dies every 10munities, on account of pregnancy or childbirth, giving a total of 53,000 deaths per year. About 800 women die in every 100,000 births. About 528 newborn babies’ dies everyday of neonatal mortality, one of the highest in the world.
“It is unfortunate that 1 million children die under the age of 5 years annually, more than a quarter of them during the first 28 days of life because from record out of each 100,000 live births in the North West, 1,026 mother die. The highest number of under five children (Under 5 Mortality Rate) is in the North West, where 269 children die out of every 1,000”, he said.
He recommended different models that can further help the media in its advocacy cause of maternal health, insisting that since journalism mirrors the society, “we should always consider the realities of the society in consonance with its norms and value in promoting its ideals”.
“In the case of maternal health, it is easy to use Islamic values, to show the position of women in Islam, the reverence of mothers over fathers in Islam, to reflect ,as the mirror does, on the Islamic perspectives of health and longevity to draw the attention of the legislators and to put across, a case for maternal health in a more convincing way; Professional Model.
“As professional, it is the responsibility of the journalist to conduct all the necessary background research and get knowledgeable enough, to be able to speak competently on the subject, in this case, maternal health, and present it to the audience.”
He also stressed that “it is the responsibility of the government all levels to take care of the needs of its people, especially under political dispensation. Both executive and legislative arm of the government owe the society a responsibility to take care of their women and children”.