By Victoria Ojeme
President of Wellbeing Foundation, Dr Toyin Saraki, at the weekend called on the Federal Government to improve health care services of women and girls in the country.
Dr Saraki made this call at the ongoing campaign, title ” What women want”, saying it is a global advocacy campaign to improve quality maternal and reproductive healthcare for women and girls to strengthen the health system.
Dr Saraki who was represented at the launch by the Vice-President of Wellbeing Foundation who is also a Special Adviser to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Amy Oyekunle said the Welling Foundation is focused on changing the narrative of maternal and child mortality through programmes like the Mama Care Antenatal and Post Natal Education Programme.
She said, ” There is need for awareness on healthcare services for women especially for mothers both married and single ladies, our main aim of coming here is to hear from the women themselves to know what they want and also get their opinions, I believed this will go a long way.
In her remarks,National Coordinator, White Ribbon Alliance in Nigeria, Tonte Ibraye, said “the campaign sets out to gather survey data from women and girls in Nigeria about their top priority for quality maternal and reproductive health services
According to Ibraye, “this campaign is not just for only one organization, it is for everybody to join if they want to get feedback from women and girls about what they want to see in a primary healthcare centre when they visit a health facility.”Already, several national and global organisations including the Wellbeing Foundation have signed on to the campaign.
Ibraye said “We are hoping to launch the campaign in all the states and we have invited a lot of other organisations to adopt this campaign and implement it at different levels. Thus, organisations in several other areas will also launch the campaign in those areas and get the information that we need so that we can analyse them and share the results with decision makers and stakeholders at all levels.”
She regretted the ugly maternal and newborn health indicators of Nigeria saying it is about the worst in the world.
“There is need for the government to redouble their efforts and ensure that they invest more resources in health and also ensure that there is health for the money that is being spent. We are going to do all our best to ensure that we track the resources and also find out from the women if they are having the benefits of the investments that government is making in health,” Ibraye added.
Meanwhile some of the pregnant and nursing mothers who spoke with Vanguard called on the government to waive all forms of hospital charges imposed on pregnant women during delivery as this has kept most poor women away from hospital deliveries.
Mrs Juliet Lazarus said “For me during delivery, the care I received was good but for others, for example the person I gave birth with, the care was not good because she had no money to buy the hospital requirements for delivery and for that, she nearly died to extent that she had to use some of the delivery items I brought.”
“I am pleading with the government to give free medical treatment for pregnant women and children. Because of the charges at the hospital, some women will die at home while trying to deliver than to go to the hospital,” she said.
Although there is a government policy for free maternal and child healthcare services at public hospitals, the women said that there are hospital requirements which costs them N13,800 to acquire and when you don’t have them, the hospital will insist you must bring them before they will attend to you.
“Some of us will say, since I don’t have the money, let me give birth at home and when there is a complication that requires the attendance of a medical personnel, nobody at home can do that.”
“This campaign is very good for women because if the government will listen to our voices, they will help us. I remember some years ago, delivery was completely free, they will treat you well and even give you packages to go home with, which we really appreciated.”