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Measures To Check Maternal Mortality



Madam Eunice Ifejika, 75, recalls in anguish the death of her 25-year-old daughter during childbirth about 12 years ago.

“I saw my daughter die as nobody could help the situation because there was no medical expert around. The traditional birth attendant did her best but all to no avail.

“I lost her and the child amidst tears and pains. I hope that one day, Uguta women will have trained midwives and doctors in their hospitals to deliver them of their babies without problems,” she says.

Ifejika, a native of Uguta, near Ashaka in Delta State, is one of several mothers, who lost their children as a result of complications during childbirth.

Today, the old woman’s expectation may not be far-fetched after all, as the Federal Government is already executing the Midwifery Service Scheme (MSS), identified as a sure way to reduce maternal mortality rate in Nigeria.

Health analysts and various international organisations rate Nigeria as one of several nations with a high rate of maternal mortality. They insist that all stakeholders in the health sector needed to be carried along in the new scheme.

In fact, available statistics indicate that Nigeria is second to India in maternal mortality ratio of 1100 per 100,000 live births.

By February, the Federal Government had employed and trained 2,488 midwives in life-saving skills and integrated management of childhood illnesses under the MSS.

Showing concern about Nigeria’s high maternal mortality rate, Ms Agathe Lawson, Resident Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said recently that the country needed to strengthen its efforts on the overall prevention of maternal mortality.

She, therefore, called for proper training of midwives, to ensure effective coverage of all aspects of primary health care.

Dr Muhammed Pate, the Executive Secretary, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), also recently interacted with principals of selected schools of midwifery, to explore ways of boosting the training of midwives under MSS.

“The scheme became necessary to address the poor maternal and child health schemes and get Nigeria on track toward the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” Pate said.

He said that the agency would institutionalise functional mentoring mechanisms to ensure that midwives were always active at their duty posts, while their training would be intensified.

Pate described MSS as a home-grown health programme, aimed at enabling mothers, newborn babies and other children to benefit from quality health care.

To boost the scheme, he said, the Federal Government in April  last April began linking 160 primary health care centres and 40 general hospitals across the country with Information Communication Technology (ICT).

“The centres and general hospitals are being connected with ICT to enable voice and data transmissions through internet connectivity being provided by Galaxy Backbone Plc,” he said.

Pate stressed that “pregnancy and childbirth should be things of joy to the citizens and not a matter of life and death for women.

“We will continue to strive to make pregnancy and childbirth safer, while improving maternal survival through functional primary health care system,” he said.

The MSS, according to Pate, is being funded by the MDGs/Diagnosis-related Group, under which 163 general hospitals have been earmarked to serve as referral hospitals, as part of efforts toward enhancing primary health care.

He said that a Ward Development Committee had been formed under the scheme, adding that plans were also underway to initiate health interventions through mobile telephony.

At a recent ceremony where NPHCDA signed a memorandum of understanding with UNFPA, Pate appraised the success of the MSS so far and concluded that it had greatly improved the utilisation of primary health care facilities nationwide.

He said that reports from the agency’s field staff, partners and the secretariat of the Governors’ Forum attested to such improvements.

‘‘In July for example, about 54,000 women attended ante-natal care at the MSS facilities nationwide and the number will continue to rise.

“I was in Kebbi recently; you could find the midwives physically there at the centres and hospitals. They had been there for six months and they are actually delivering services.

“In one local government, about 160 women had accessed the facilities provided, whereas previous records showed only 20 women did so during the corresponding period,” he said.

Under the NPHCDA-UNFPA partnership, it is expected that the UN agency will complement government’s efforts at sourcing inputs.

Lawson gave the assurance that UNFPA would train doctors on extended life-saving skills at referral sites under the collaboration.

The Chief Matron of Bauchi Urban Maternity, Hajiya Laraba Mohammed, is among several health workers who lauded the MSS.

She expressed satisfaction with the increased number of expectant mothers who

attended ante-natal clinic at the Bauchi Urban Maternity Clinic in the Bauchi metropolis, saying that the daily average stood at 600 women.

The figure, she pointed out, sharply contrasted with past record of 300 expectant mothers, attributing the increase to sustained enlightenment campaigns on the importance of ante-natal care for expectant mothers.

“Because of the increase in number of pregnant women, we now run ante-natal clinics on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays on weekly basis,” she added.

Laraba called on men to encourage their wives to attend ante-natal clinics and to ensure that they went to hospital for child delivery, so as “to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality in the state’’

A former Minister for Health, Prof. Babatunde Oshotimehin, conceded that the 2,488 midwives deployed under MSS were not enough, adding, however, that the scheme needed to start from somewhere.

Pate, however, disclosed that the Federal Government recently increased the number of midwives to 4,000, with additional 1,000 community health workers in 1,000 primary health care centres.

Observers say that these measures are quite salutary because they will appreciably reduce the incidence of maternal mortality in the country.

Oshotimehim also applauded the success of the scheme but sought greater support from state governments, saying that midwives should be encouraged to have direct communication with the communities to educate them on the importance of sanitation.

“The MSS is a pioneer programme in the country and if the funds allocated to it are properly used, the aims would be achieved,” he said.

Pate admitted that the tasks ahead were quite enormous but pledged his agency’s readiness to make a difference in maternal and child health care delivery in Nigeria through the scheme and other initiatives.

Health analysts expect that more women will no longer patronise unskilled traditional birth attendants but avail themselves of the services rendered under the MSS, with a view to attaining a significant reduction in maternal mortality in the country.

Ofili writes for NAN.


Franca Ofili

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Women Can Go Without Artificial Beauty



Beauty, they say, is in the eyes of the beholder. Every woman naturally is beautiful, but some persons feel that the way they were created is not enough. They feel that perhaps the creator should have added more features to their physique.
Artificial beauty did not start today. It has been there ever since man existed.  From time to time, there has been one form of additional make-up or the other that women especially, must add to their natural look.
When you look at some of our elders, especially women, you notice certain drills or symbols (tattoo) on their skins, mostly on their hands and legs, in form of designs with dark prints. That is a form of artificial beauty. These days, some young ones still use such designs to beautify themselves.
It is not only women that are involved in artificial beauty, some young men also have likeness for it.  It is common nowadays to see younger male folks spend money to pierce their ears to wear earrings.  They also style their hairs in various forms to appear like women, so as to look more handsome. This no doubt, costs them more money than being in their natural look.
Every generation grows with its own new systems, items, styles of artificial beauty.  Before now, African women generally and Nigerians in particular had their hair in natural form.
As civilisation and westernisation continued, Nigerian women started copying, for instance, perming of their hair to look like the white women.  They started using western-produced chemicals (relaxers) to make their hairs look sleepy and smoother.
Nigerian women used to plate their hair with black thread or go with their hair well cut at low level. In terms of weaving, it was without attachment. The issue of women weaving hair with attachment came with civilisation. That is also a form of make-up.
The quest for extra beauty aside the way women were created has been from one generation to another. Looking beautiful for some persons is more important than food. Some prefer to appear trendy instead of attending to household pressure.
Two or three decades ago, ladies used mascaras to darken and thicken their eyelashes.  But in this 21st century, another system has evolved.  Fixing of artificial eyelashes has become the order of the day.
There was a lady who was fixing her eyelashes in a salon, unfortunately, she got a phone call that her mother was late, as she started crying, it was difficult for her to clean the tears that were flowing down her cheeks.
The reason was for fear of the eye lashes falling off while cleaning the tears off her eyes.
One funny thing about fixing of artificial eyelashes is that some persons cannot close their eyes properly.  The beauty they have in mind before fixing it is not really achieved as their look become something anybody cannot behold.  Both the shape of their eyes and facial outlook automatically change.  One begins to wonder if that is the beauty they are looking for.  Instead of looking beautiful, the reverse becomes the case.
As years go by, artificial beauty becomes more sophisticated in the society. The price and cost for looking more beautiful than women were created naturally, becomes higher than their natural look.
The cosmetic industry becomes one of the most viable industries worldwide because some women desire artificial beauty.  Some engage in cosmetic surgery to alter any part of their body which does not give them pleasure, especially the fatty parts.  Some go for surgery to make their slacked breasts to return to their original shapes as well as those with big tummies.
It is interesting to note that currently, Nigerian ladies have started to give preference to their natural hair and this is attracting a lot of admiration for them. Many prefer that natural look with low cuts. With that, the cost of maintaining the hair by ladies is reduced.
I think this is commendable as it will save the women from the negative effects of chemicals used in manufacturing hair relaxers.
People have been addicted to artificial beauty to the extent that they insert certain substances into their bodies to make them become more robust and attractive to their admirers.
I do not understand why we should be crazy about adding more to our natural look.  Every woman wants to look attractive in a packaged manner without recognising the implications of artificial beauty and make-up.
In fact, women’s quest for beauty has taken different dimensions as they tend to appear trendy at home, in offices and as they go about their businesses.  That is just to feel belonged and achieve self-esteem.
I recall a few years back, my pastor who trained as an engineer advised women against the use of lipstick.  He said that one of the chemical components of lipstick is lead and that it is dangerous to humans. Many women may not understand the reality of what he said until it manifests.
I think those who are naturally beautiful should not go for artificial make-ups. They should be satisfied with the work of their creator.  Women should not continue to paint their faces to look like masquerades and should not lose value due to artificial beauty.
It may interest you to know that persons who apply make-ups excessively are mocked instead of being admired.  Make-ups can be applied lightly.
Fixing of nails is another business. After fixing nails, some women find it difficult to perform house chores. Washing their personal belongings becomes a problem. The artificial nails become so long and sophisticated to the extent that the bearer cannot handle objects properly.   Those in that habit also find it difficult to eat food with the fingers.
There are people who feel they should have been born in certain colour but when the reverse is the case, they seek artificial make-ups.  Use of skin-toning cream and soap becomes the option for artificial beauty.  This happens to the extent that the users start having dark spots on the skin. Blisters occur on their faces and legs. According to experts, this may lead to kidney ailments.
Ladies should not make themselves as a laughing stock with unnecessary make-ups as they can still be cherished in their natural outlook.
It is high time people had stopped following trends to the detriment of their health.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode


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Women’s Role In Curbing Child Abuse



The role of women incurbing child abuse can never be over-emphasised.  Mothers are the ones who nurture and groom their offsprings and wards whether biological children or adopted.
It is necessary that any child who falls under the supervision of a mother, must be accounted for by that woman.
Shaping the life of a child depends so much on the mother even if certain percentage of care is being expected from a father.  The mother starts nurturing a child from age zero till the adolescent stage.  She should always do a follow-up at every stage of development of every child in her care.
Within the period of this growth, if there are negative tendencies exhibited by the child, the mother should be able to identify before the child goes to school. This is because the child starts learning from the home.
When you talk about child abuse, it starts from the home and the way every child is treated matters a lot.
The menace called child abuse is something that every hand must be on deck to ensure it is eradicated in the society. The major agent of eradication is the mother.
There are various forms of child abuse.  You may discover that at every form of the menace, the woman is involved and should be held responsible for it is consequences.
Of course, it is clear that child abuse does not have any positive impact on the society except the perpetrators of the act. It favours the perpetrators alone. Some persons derive joy in seeing either their own child or another’s child being denied equal rights and accomplishing goals that will help them in future.
According to UNICEF in 1989, child abuse is the portion of harm to children that results from human action or inaction  that is proscribed, proximate and preventable.
The African Network for the Prevention or Protection against Child Abuse or Neglect (ANPPCAN) looked at child abuse as the intentional, unintentional or well-intentional act, which endangers the physical, health, emotional, moral and the educational welfare of the child.
Broadly, it means maltreatment of a child: any form of action that brings about physical, mental, psychological and social torture to the child.
When you talk about child labour, which includes buying and selling most times, a woman will intentionally send the child out for hawking with the aim of making money. A situation where a woman’s children will be in school and she finds pleasure in sending a house help out portends danger to that child.
A woman should not send an adopted child out to the neighbourhood alone to fetch water when her own children are idle because her role is to protect every child in her care whether biological or not.
When you talk about child trafficking, apart from when children are in school, the mother should be aware of the location of the child at every time. Monitoring the children should be the watchword of every committed mother. When a woman is careless about the whereabouts of the child, that child can be picked up from any location without her knowledge.
A woman should not express anger on anything the child does at home.   A child/ward can be corrected for wrong doing without being battered.  It has been discovered in some homes that child battering has led to death or deformity of some children. A mother should know the kind of punishment a child deserves for correction.
Some women neglect their children by sending them to others for lack of basic needs.  Every responsible woman should be able to have the number of children she can cater for.  While the child is in another woman’s house, no one knows how many meals he or she takes per day.
Sending a child out for hawking especially a female, signals danger to the girl.  That is a simple way of exposing her to sexual abuse.  Some irresponsible persons under the pretence of buying something from her, can lure her into unnecessary sexual abuse.  The danger in this is that it can lead to unwanted pregnancy,  contraction of STDs and HIV/AIDS.
Most rape cases that have been recorded are as a result of sending a girl out to hawk.
There is no harm in asking children to assist in selling, so as to make up in the home, but if they are to sell in a kiosk no matter how little it may be, a mother can monitor the children there.
A mother should know that giving a child under the age of 18 out for marriage is an abuse. Women must nurture the children to maturity before sending them out because the dangers of underage marriage are devastating. When an underage girl is given out for any reason for marriage, do not forget that consequences that arise from that will still fall back to the mother.
A mother should not send her child or ward out for prostitution in order to make money.
Parents and guardians, especially mothers should be more educated and more awareness should be created on why they should pay more attention to their children and wards.
As the world marks child abuse day annually, it should be a reminder for women to show more care to their wards so that the abuse  can be eradicated in the society.

By: Eunice Choko-Kayode

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Build Your Homes, Banigo Urges Women



Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo has urged women to build their homes with wisdom to ensure they do not collapse.
Banigo stated this while speaking as the guest preacher during the 2022 Ladies Conference at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Regional Headquarters Parish (Chapel of Blessings), No 38, Old GRA Extension, Eastern Bypass, in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Banigo said, women, need to ask God for the wisdom that would carry them through.
“You need the wisdom to run your homes and grow our children, the whole world is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, there is a lot of groaning, in our nation, and in our communities, there is groaning, the Lord is waiting upon you. God is set to do something new in Rivers State and Nigeria”.
Banigo, who spoke on the theme: “Every Increasing Christian Woman” drawn, from Luke Chapter 2: 52, insisted that the word of God was key, in our increase, adding that we must grow in the word of God, spend time on the word, meditate on the word and chew the word.
“If you are a Christian, you must sleep on his word and let the word grow in you, through prayers and fasting, we must increase in our prayer life, and we also need to increase in favour, to increase in favour we need to emulate what Jesus Christ did. He was humble, humility must be our watchword, and you have to be simple and humble to attract God’s favour into your life”,Banigo stressed.
The deputy governor, who said Our Lord Jesus Christ was diligent at all times, said “we must be diligent in teaching our children and leading them in the way of the Lord”, stressing that “if we want increase in God’s favour, we must live a holy life.
“There are no two ways, about it, the Bible says those that are the sons of God, are led by the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God cannot dwell in a vessel that is contaminated. We must also increase in faith and in giving.
“Giving takes us from Glory to Glory, and we must realise that faith without works is dead, it is not about, I have faith, show me works in the Lord, show me your works in righteousness, and giving, giving of our time and resources is key, because Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive”, the deputy governor further stressed.
She also said we must teach our children as fathers and mothers to give and teach our youths that, it is more blessed to give than to receive, so the rent-seeking attitude that occupied the spirit of our youths in Rivers State must end.
“They must realize that God put them together and gave them a great destiny to fulfil and that there is something that they can offer to society. When you find favour with God then he will take care of favour with man. Stop running around seeking favour with men. He speaks for you when you are not there; take time to find favour with God rather than men, as the Bible says when a man’s ways please God even his enemies will work for him, as we grow in age we, must grow in wisdom and knowledge”, Banigo said.
Earlier, the wife of the Regional Pastor of RCCG, Region 5, Mrs Modupe Adesoji, said the programme, which started last week Thursday, featured free medical, outreaches, and float rallies to sensitize the citizenry, as well as aerobics to keep the women physically, mentally and spiritually fit, as well as a dinner for couples.
Highlights of the programme include various musical ministrations and special thanksgiving by the women as well as the fathers to mark Father’s Day.

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