By Chioma Obinna
Rising from a 3-day discourse on â€œEngaging Government for Accountability in Delivery of MDGs 4 & 5, Female media executives and other civil society organisations have called for urgent action from all stakeholders in advocating, educating and informing workable health policies in Nigeria, as well as providing culturally appropriate, evidence-based skilled care as needed.
In a communique jointly issued by the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) National Secretariat, Development Communications Network (DevComs), participating Journalists from NAWOJ in Northern Nigeria stressed that as Nigeria count down to 2015, a major strategy for achieving the key indicators for MDGs 4 & 5 on child and maternal health should be the use of a multi-sectoral approach.
Challenging governments and other stakeholders across the country, the participants called for team work with a view to improving the major determinants of health, including social and economic status, human rights, the environment, health amongst others.
They posited that â€œIn the face of the uneven state of Maternal and Child Health (MNCH) in Nigeria and inaccessibility of the populace to health services and the absence of practical policy frameworks by the government at all levels, media advocacy would place the situation on the front-burner and at the same time enlighten Nigerians on salient issues of the MDGs with emphasis on MNCH.â€
â€œThe fact that about 53,000 women die annually from complications of pregnancy and child birth in Nigeria is not only a grim reality but that Nigeria does not seem to appreciate the enormity of the crisis as to how we came to this sorry state is a far greater challenge indeed.â€
â€œNewborns and young children are not spared from unnecessary deaths in Nigeria. â€œAbout a million children die every yearâ€ from preventable and treatable infectious diseases including malaria, measles, diarrhoea and malnutrition.â€
The participants stressed the need to build a synergy of cooperation and collaboration among individual groups, professional health associations and their individual members,governments, multilateral and bilateral agencies, NGOs, academic institutions and communities through effective communication.
They also called for the implementation of universal access to quality healthcare services; provision of skilled attendants during pregnancy, childbirth and post natal period at all levels of the healthcare delivery system and ultimately strengthen the capacity of individuals, families and communities to improve maternal and neonatal health.
They stressed the need to prioritise the health services of the people on needs-basis, through active participation of all stakeholders, using the most cost effective means, in an efficient manner. â€œStrengthen existing health professional organizations and promote collaborative efforts to achieve a common vision for maternal, newborn and child health, with appropriate consideration for socio-cultural and religious beliefs, support linkages with other stakeholders in MNCH at t
The participants urged the media organizations in the country to promote developmental journalism, using evidence-based reporting aimed at bringing to the limelight the salient issues as they relate to maternal and neonatal child health as well as ensure good corporate governance.
They further posited that the MDGs 4 and 5 can be achieved if family planning /child spacing is widely encouraged and accepted.