Mama2Mama: Women Testifies on How EU, UNICEF is Transforming Healthcare Delivery in Kebbi
By Alex Uangbaoje, Birni Kebbi
Women in Kebbi State are appreciating the European Union (EU) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for their initiative of “Mama2Mama” which was introduced and launched in the state in December 2018.
“Mama2Mama”, is an EU, support initiative for the Kebbi State Government, being implemented by UNICEF in four Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Jega, Argungu, Birnin Kebbi and Fakai. The programme aims to boost Maternal Newborn and Child Health Care in the State.
Through the initiative, UNICEF, have trained 2115 mothers to be reaching out to other mothers who don’t go for healthcare services in 47 wards in the four benefitting LGAs. The mothers were equipped with health care information on Ante Natal Care (ANC), Exclusive Breastfeeding, Routine Immunization (RI) etc mainly to create demand for the services.
A mother of 3 children,, Saudiatu Auwal, said she will forever be grateful to the organizations for helping her to know and understand why accessing healthcare centre is important.
Saudiatu, whose third child is just 5 months old spoke at PHC Alelu, her community in Jega LGA, explaining that giving birth at a health centre with support of trained medical experts is a new experience for her.
“This is my third child, who I gave birth to here with the help of “Mama2Mama” women who came to my house and ensured that I started coming for Ante Natal Care (ANC).
“The other two I gave birth to them at home, with lots of pain. Mama2Mama brought me to the PHC, and I gave birth with ease and I have been enjoying healthcare services.
“I so much appreciate their efforts for bringing me to the PHC, and I hope the facility would continue to provide the same services to other pregnant women. I will also henceforth begin to encourage other women to go to healthcare centres for ANC and delivery”. She said.
“I thank EU and UNICEF, for making this possible and I appeal that they should extend this to other places where the programme is not yet introduced”.
Another mother, Rukayya Aminu, a 30 year – old, with 6 children, said though she gave birth to some of her children at the general hospital in Jega, but the “Mama2Mama”, women had helped her to regain hope after she had lost the hope of attending ANC.
According to the 8 – months old pregnant woman from Birnin Yari community in Magaji Ward of Jega LGA, who spoke at PHC Birnin Yari “the Mama2Mama women met me seriously sick and weak at a time I was not ready to attend ANC, but they encouraged me to come here today and I have been attended to and am feeling better now” She explained.
“I accepted to come because of the way women are talking about it, they have really tried for women in our community. Most us don’t like going to health centres until we fall sick, but with the way they spoke to me, I have come to realise that going to health centre is in our own interest.
“I must commend them for bringing this kind of ideas to motivate women to be attending to their health, especially during pregnancy to delivery. We pray that EU would continue with this programme so that those who are yet to appreciate to go for ANC will know the importance.”
Also speaking, Coordinator Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH), in Jega LGA, Hauwa’u Umar, revealed that, since the takeoff of the “Mama2Mama” programme and renovation of the facility by the EU, there has been an up shoot in client accessing the facility.
Hauwa’u, who also doubles as the in-charge of Birni Yari PHC, explained that ANC attendance has increased with over 80%, since the EU, UNICEF intervention. She however, appeal to EU, for more support in the areas of provision of uniform for the “Mama2Mama” volunteers, and other equipment for the PHC.
On her part, the in-charge of PHC Alelu, Safi’a Garba, who thanked EU and UNICEF for what they have done through the programme, especially capacity building for health workers on Community Based Newborn Care (CBNC), Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCTC) of HIV/AIDS, amongst others, added that the impact of the programme is being felt by the community.
She explained that, general attendants has risen from 443 in December 2018 to 528 by June 2019. ANC attendants which was less than 130 in November 2018 is now over 175 as at June 2019.
“In November 2018, we had 28 delivery, but as we speak now, in June we had recorded 51 deliveries. Even Routine Immunization, which was just about 149 in November, is now over 215 as at June.
“The intervention has really transformed they way we do things and how the people used to respond, even the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), have improved as a result of this. It has made our job very easy as health workers.
“I must sincerely commend the EU, for this intervention and I will also want them to continue this support and even do more.
Sometimes these women volunteers are faced with a lot of challenges, they spend from their personal pockets to go around and we meet with them every month to review our performance.
“And most of them come from remote areas, even after the suffering we don’t have money to refresh them during the meeting, so I will call on the EU, UNICEF and givt to kindly support us more.”
On the sustainability of the programme, Kebbi Advocacy Co-group, Chairman, Alhaji Aliyu Garba, who described the initiative as fantastic, advised UNICEF to bring Civil Society Organizations on board by working with them directly so they can own it after EU exit.
He said though the CSOs are happy with the way UNICEF is approaching the intervention by carrying them along, but there is need for a more cordial working relationship on the project, because they have the capacity to influence the government to continue the project.
Aliyu, called for an expansion of the programme to all the 21 LGAs in the state since it’s already working. Expressed hope that government would have the manpower to meet up with the supply after CSOs is done with their demand creation.
He therefore, urged government to as a matter of urgent importance start making provisions towards the sustainability of the programme and also make commodities abundantly available to avoid failure.
He harped on the need for government to ensure the selection of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) officers is transparent and objective, because according to him, ” the right people should be giving the opportunity to serve.” By in large he expressed optimism that givt achieve and sustain this initiative in the best interest of the people in the State.