Effective Healthcare Awareness: Zamfara Traditional Leaders Want Women Group to Take the Lead

By Alex Uangbaoje, Gusau

As part of efforts to make education, healthcare services delivery, awareness effective at the community level in Zamfara State so as to create more demands for the services in order to have better Heath practices, Traditional Leader in the state has proposed the formation of women forum, to be called Women Royal Engagement Forum”. 

This was part of resolutions reached at the just concluded Zamfara State Advocacy and Community Engagement Workshop, supported by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), held in Gusau.

The traditional leaders in a  communique endorsed by all participants at workshop, observed that “there is a need to create a women forum with the title “Women Royal Engagement Forum” to comprise the wives of the traditional leaders in the state.”

They also proposed that the women forum initiate can facilitate the engagement of women on increasing demands for basic social service delivery at all levels in Zamfara State (especially at the community level).

Stakeholders at the meeting, after an intense deliberations agreed that there is need to intensify the engagement of communities in order to accelerate and increase positive healthy practices in Zamfara State.

They charged traditional leaders to increase and improve their role as the custodians of child right and protection in the State.

They equally called on the traditional rulers to intensify advocacy and enlightenment activities on child spacing in Zamfara State.

The workshop avails participants an opportunity to have better understanding of the roles of the religious leaders, traditional leaders and the media in community engagement for the improvement of maternal and child health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and hygiene and child protection.

During the deliberations, participants provided immediate context information which will be used to improve the 5-year implementation action plan.

On the health workers, they want them to be consistently trained and supported with logistics for effective and sustainable service delivery.

They agreed that religious leaders should increase advocacy on adequate care of almajiris in State.

Though they agreed that access to sanitation in the State is improving, but they want the traditional rulers and religious leaders to push for the elimination of Open Defecation and improve environmental sanitation.

 “Children and women are more vulnerable to diseases, lack of access to education, water and sanitation. Some of these challenges are due to taboos, mis-conceptions, superstitions etc.

“Islam and Christianity support good health practices, sanitation, education, nutrition and child protection as parental responsibility complemented by community and collective obligation.

“The integration of the traditional and religious institutions with the media will improve and increase the awareness level of communities in Zamfara State on health, education, nutrition, water, sanitation and child protection information.

“Traditional and religious leaders have strong influence in every community to help enhance the adoption of best health practices, and in ensuring that children are enrolled in schools, children are registered at birth, children are protected, women attend antenatal clinic, and that, high nutrition and sanitation practices become prevalent among the people.” they added.

The workshop was an opportunity for the state government to launch the Faith-for-Life handbooks (Islam and Christianity version). 

And an MoU was signed by the State Government, UNICEF and the Emir of Zamfaran Anka (Chairman, Council of Chiefs) for increasing demand for basic social services by the traditional institutions with support from the media, the religious institutions, UNICEF and the state government.

A Media Partnership Agreement (October 2017-December 2019) for the delivery of basic social services in Zamfara State was also signed by UNICEF, Ministry of Information Zamfara State and the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Zamfara State Chapter.

The aim of the workshop was to develop a 5-year Advocacy and Community Engagement Plan to enhance demand for services in maternal and child health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and hygiene and child protection in Zamfara State to be implemented by the traditional and religious institutions, and the media.


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