Friday, 14 August 2009


Dear All,

We are pleased to inform you that the ‘Call for application on Investigative Journalism Stories on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) in Nigeria’ has been extended. DEVCOMS is aware of the challenges you may have faced in the bid of completing and filling the application form, it was due to some technical hitches.

To this end the competition has been extended to the 21st of August, 2009. For further details on how to complete the form, please log on to

Note that you will have to register as a new user on the said page to access the application form.

For enquiries please call 07029232133, 07029104821


Wednesday, 5 August 2009


Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS), winner of ONE Africa Award 2008, is pleased to invite APPLICATIONS from all eligible professional journalists in Nigeria, ON INVESTIGATIVE IDEAS in the area of Maternal, Newborn and Child Healthcare (MNCH). The grant is supported under the Ford Foundation funded project on "Strengthening mass media advocacy on improved national response to the poor maternal health situation in Nigeria." The grant will be followed by awards, in collaboration with the Well Being Foundation, to the best reports.

Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) is a key issue that all health stakeholders, public and governments need to be sensitized on, most especially as it concerns saving the lives of women and children in Nigeria. Hence creating awareness about the high level of maternal, newborn and infant deaths paramount to measuring the success achieved so far in reaching the MDGs 4 and 5.

This call is to bring to fore the challenges inherent in programming and implementation of projects aimed at addressing the needless deaths of Nigerian women and children. Journlists are expected to document their ideas in form of issue oriented stories in prints, electronic, news agency or online format in a manner that enable the society to monitor and evaluate measurable progress made so far in MDGs 4 & 5 in Nigeria. The stories should also educate and advocate how to harness the strategies adopted in addressing maternal, nwborn and child health for more efficient results from local communities up to state and national platform.

Applicants are to develop at least 2 story ideas that would feature an accurate documentation in any of the following video, audio, online or print (including news agency) format.

- Compelling feature story on MNCH linked to developmental issue(s)

- Governmental Policy on ‘Women and Children’ and its implementation at local communities and all levels of governance

- Human angle story ideas that bring to fore key challenges of women and children in accessing healthcare in Nigeria.

Grants for approved story idea is worth (N75, 000) which is strictly for field/investigative feature length reporting on MDGs 4 and 5 and related issues concerning women and children.

All winning entries are automatically nominated to compete for an award ceremony for ‘Best Story/Report on maternal, newborn and child health, 2009.

Opening date: 31st July, 2009 08.00 GMT (9am local time, Nigeria)
Closing date: 14th August, 2009 15.00 GMT (4pm local time, Nigeria)
Selected stories must be aired or published on or before September 4th 2009



Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Debilitating effects of HIV/AIDS on Nigerian Women and Children

Debilitating effects of HIV/AIDS on Nigerian Women and Children

HIV/AIDS has emerged as one of the greatest pandemic which hunts everyone, not sparing the weakest of all, women and children. At present, the most recent HIV sero-prevalance survey shows that women aged 15 – 49 years, constitute 56 percent of the 4.74 million infected, (Adekeye, 2005) with quite a number who have given birth to babies that have become infected also. Others who had the virus after birth have had to battle with the challenge alone, due to the devastating effect it has on them. Women are more prone to contracting HIV because of certain factors. One important factor is biological, which explains the physiological characteristics of women, the general vulnerability of women partly accounts for a wide range of female reproductive health problems, and variation in socio-economic and political status by gender. These have emerged as some of the factors responsible for increasing the spread of HIV infection among Nigerian women.

Children, on the other hand, can also be infected by HIV/AIDS. They are particularly affected if one or both parents are infected and the effect of HIV/AIDS is greatly felt by those orphaned by AIDS, because they have to face life’s challenges without their parents. Apart from grief, depression, dependency on others and denial of basic necessities, children orphaned by AIDS are often stigmatized and discriminated due to fear surrounding AIDS by people around them. Many of these orphans are therefore forced into exploitative situations such as prostitution, robbery and other evil acts which could get them infected as well, and even land them in jail or expose them to risks that may cut short their lives. The HIV/AIDS endemic toll on the number of school age children is very alarming, because the scourge decreases the rate of growth of the school age population.

Also HIV positive women have reduced fertility and mother-to-child transmission of the virus, which means increase in child mortality rate. HIV-Positive women have significantly more negative pregnancy outcomes, such as spontaneous abortions and still-births, than uninfected women. This is likely to further decrease the number of children 0-5 years of age in the households (Chomba and Piot, 1994). Women who are infected with the virus, are also regarded as child bearers, child rearers and care givers, they bear the brunt of the impact of HIV/AIDS, as they are responsible for their sick children or spouse. They are also saddled with the responsibility of caring for orphaned and vulnerable children. This is often a difficult role and task for women to perform.
Further more, the effect of HIV/AIDS on children relates to the projected increase in AIDS orphan hood and school dropouts. These may contribute to increased child labour, as children enter the work force at even younger age in search of financial support (Lisk, 2002).
In order to control HIV/AIDS and its effects on women and children, women’s vulnerability should be checked by passing and enforcing laws against gender discrimination, empowering women economically, improving access of girls to education and provision of basic necessities for the orphans.

Ikeoluwa AWE

The Battle lines of Malaria

The Battle lines of Malaria

Malaria is a prominent disease which has continued its plight across the regions of the world. With a significant effect on countries across Africa, its landmark features has resulted in death of mothers, children, families, communities and cultures. Available records show that at least 50 per cent of the population of Nigeria suffers from at least one episode of malaria each year and malaria accounts for over 45 per cent of all out-patient visits. The disease accounts for 25 per cent of infant mortality and 30 per cent of childhood mortality in Nigeria. World Health Organisation (WHO, estimates 300-500 million cases of malaria, with over one million deaths each year. The battle lines to fight malaria through prevention, eradication and treatment continues to be a top priority assignment for Nigerians and advocate groups within various communities.

Malaria develops in the human body through a cycle of transmission which is assisted by bites from a female anopheles mosquito, the carrier of malaria parasite. The female anopheles mosquito is constantly looking for a blood meal to feed on to sustain itself through its breeding period. In a large population society like Nigeria, there is a strong possibility that the female anopheles mosquito will find the perfect blood meal in humans. When a female anopheles mosquito takes it routine bites in human’s everyday, it injects saliva mixed with an anticoagulant, if the mosquito is infected with plasmodium, that is the asexual cells of malaria parasites it also infects the host. The newly transmitted cells of malaria parasite continues to evolve and increase in number throughout the human body. These parasitic cells are born with an innate nature to swim through the human bloodstreams; they live comfortable within every organic corner they find in the human body. Their active movement continues to create a sense of chill, increase in body temperature, headaches, muscle aches, tiredness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia, and jaundice (yellow colouring of the skin and eyes). Convulsions, coma, severe anaemia and kidney failure can also occur. Most people begin feeling sick within10 days to 4 weeks after being infected. At this stage, the malaria parasitic cells, are in a state referred to as gametocytes, which comprises of male gametocytes and female gametocytes. Their growth and multiplication takes place inside red blood cells. As the malaria parasite continues to multiply and have an increased activity in the human body, the human host continues to grow weak and develop a low resistance to fight against this invasion hence needs to seek medical care.

In its mischievous attempt to continue its existence, malaria parasitic cells wait for the next flight… that is wait for the next mosquito bite and mix carefully with the mosquito saliva and passes on the gametocytes. The male and female gametocytes recombine in the intestinal walls of the mosquito forming another ready made parasite waiting for the next mosquito bite on another human host.

In Nigeria, malaria is not a backdoor disease but has taking the leading role in creating 11% of the cause of maternal death, rapid death of under five children, absenteeism from work and multiple health complications. Its problematic features make its budget siphoning to every stakeholder of the health sector. At the moment, Africa is largest territory region affected by activities of malaria trend with a share hold of 90% across the world. Leading research in medical science as found ways to prevent, treat and eradicate malaria across various zones in Nigeria. Organisation such as National Malaria Control Programme continues to foster measures to combat malaria and closely flanged the eloquent communication to the people by Development Communications Network to create public awareness of the high stake the disease has in the society.

Although common prevention measures exist (including use of medicine (prophylaxis), insecticides (coils and sprays), ordinary mosquito nets, insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and widow and door nets) malaria accounts for millions of needless deaths in Nigerian children, pregnant women and elderly people every year due to lack of knowledge of prevention, symptoms and proper treatment.

Malaria parasites continues to draw attention by evolving in its resistance to drug treatment which is now the leading cause for more research on its treatment and eradication. Strategic impartation of ways to prevent malaria continues to serve as the key to rescue the society from mortality pending the implementation of health policy for women, children, mothers, family and the community. Malaria continues to take high spot in the news across from rescue stories; to prevention and mass loss of people infected with malaria.

Malaria can be cured completely if only treated well, but many Nigerians rely on herbal drugs, traditional healers or just do without any medication at all. Information gaps need to be bridged and all Nigerians must be well informed about malaria and its implications to curb its prevalence and above all its shockingly high mortality rate.

Femi Adeolu Amele