Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Oba Erediauwa commits to saving women’s lives

Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa CFR, the Oba of Benin, was in his element on the day a team of advocates came calling to solicit his support to stem the tide of the senseless deaths of Nigerian women and children. Displaying an indepth knowledge of key issues in traditions and the application of modern day science and public health, it did not take long for a royal consent to address the need of women and children in the Benin Kingdom and Nigeria in general.

The Omo N’ Oba Edo Uku Akpolokpolo added his weight behind the Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health during an advocacy visit to the Palace in Benin. The Benin monarch who received the partnership comprising the Family Health Unit of the Federal ministry of health, developmental partners, International and Nigerian non-governmental organizations, and the media, was enjoined to speak about the health and lives of women and children more often. The partnership pointed out that when a high ranking monarch such as he talks, the society and political authorities are most likely to heed the call and act accordingly.

To His Royal Highness “Education is key, but we need to work at it from traditional perspectives too. People need to be educated to address maternal and infant mortality. Our culture is very dynamic, so people need to know the implications of their actions.” To this end, the Monarch ordered an inventory of the state of Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities in the seven local councils in the kingdom promising to do something, but the state and national assemblies need to do something for a holistic solution to stem the tide, he says.

Despite modernisation, Nigerians still hold certain traditional and cultural practises very well to heart. This has led to the continuation of cultural practises which are detrimental to the health of the people especially to women and children. Some of these practises include forced marriage, traumatic puberty initiation rites, gender based violence, wife inheritance, child marriage and widowhood rites. Religion also plays a very significant role in the lives of Nigerians with adherents obeying the opinions of their leaders despite laying claim to modernisation.

These, added to the patriarchal system of the Nigerian society, has led to reproductive/maternal health problems not being given priority consideration. Thus any strategy to address maternal and infant health need to take these influences into consideration.

Indeed monarchs and religious leaders in Nigeria are beginning to take more proactive roles in the advocacy for better Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH). This is because of the influential role they play in the lives of the people and the high esteem people have for traditions and culture in Nigeria.

Professor Friday Okonofua, the Convener of the Advocacy Panel supported by ENHANSE/USAID states that “the strategy is to meet with high ranking government officials, key traditional and religious leaders, and politicians and convince them on the need to place priority on reducing maternal and child mortality in Nigeria.”

*By Nnenna Ike

1 comment:

Pasifik said...

This article tell me that in another part of the world there are a lot of women and children dead because lack of education, living in poverty.