Safe motherhood takes front seat in Bayelsa


Bayelsa State is out to reduce maternal and child mortality. The campaign is powered by the Ministry of Information and Orientation, reports MIKE ODIEGWU

It has been weeks of grueling campaign to get Bayelsa State out of the woods in the area of maternal and child mortality. The campaign is a state project powered by the Ministry of Information and Orientation.

For the first time since the creation of Bayelsa, the ministry has experienced a rebirth. No time had the ministry been deployed to deliberately market the activities, policies and programmes of the government as it is happening under the present Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson.

In fact, workers in the ministry for the first time are busy. They are no longer redundant. They are living their professional dreams following activities created by the commissioner to realise the vision of Dickson’s administration. The town hall meetings on the public sector reforms were part of the activities.

The meetings, which kept information workers on their toes took place in all the local government areas of the state. At the end it achieved its aim and was adjudged a huge success by stakeholders. The singular initiative doused the tension created by the reform policy and dispelled all rumours associated with it.

Iworiso-Markson immediately discovered that Dickson was passionate about reducing the maternal and child mortality rates in the state. Having monitored the enthusiasm of his boss, the commissioner launched a statewide advocacy to enlighten and educate the people on all the health programmes and polices rolled out by the governor to force down the mortality rates.

The aim was to let people know the existence of the interventionist programmes and how they could take advantage of it to stop the menace. Again, directors and other categories of workers in the ministry, which is living up to its bidding as an orientation agency, became the foot soldiers to drive the policy.

In fact, the advocacy committee on safe motherhood campaign is headed by a director in the ministry, Chris Odi, popularly known for his effective communication skills. Other sub-committees representing each local government area were created and headed by seasoned communication officials. Members of the committee in conjunction with health workers have been on door-to-door, creek-to-creek and street-to-street campaigns for safe motherhood.

They are visiting communities in far-flung parts of Bayelsa and speaking different dialects to help people shun dangerous birth traditional practices for safer methods of child delivery. They wade through waters to get to fishing settlements and other difficult terrains to spread the message of safe motherhood.

Women in the communities are excited about the activities of the advocacy committees. Their knowledge has increased. The various committees explained all aspects of maternity, dangers of continuing with superstitions surrounding birth, life-threatening age-long beliefs and traditions as well as ignorance of government’s programmes.

Child spacing, teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality 

For instance when the committee visited Adagbabiri in Sagbama, it harped on the need for child-spacing and its relationship with the lives of mothers and newborns.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Maternal and Neonatal Health,  Prof. Rose Ezonbodor-Akwagbe cited the standard of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

She said WHO’s recommended period of interval between a child birth and another pregnancy should be at least 24 months. According to her sticking to standard would give the mother time to sufficiently recover from the previous child birth.

She insisted that the 24-month interval would give the mother time to replenish vital nutrients that were lost during the last child birth. She advised that sticking to the duration also agreed with WHO’s recommendation of breastfeeding for at least two years. Ezonbodor-Akwagbe warned that not spacing children would greatly increase the risk of adverse maternal, perinatal, and infant health outcomes.

“Generally speaking, before women plan to have their next baby, they should consider among other factors, their age, access to health services as well as their economic status,” she said.

She warned girls against becoming pregnant at a very tender age, saying that according to statistics, the chances of a woman dying during pregnancy are three times higher for teenage mothers than for women in the 20-29 age group.

According to her, giving birth too early could severely damage a girl’s reproductive and general health, causing such problems as obstructed labour, which sometimes result in bleeding to death, and vesico-vaginal fistula.

She listed the risks for a baby in situations of teenage pregnancy to include premature birth and low birth weight stressing that waiting until at least the age of 18 years before first pregnancy would help young mothers reduce the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension and associated complications.

Also, the leader of the Safe Motherhood Sensitisation Sub-committee for Sagbama, Mrs. Ebi Kakandar highlighted the benefits of enrolling in the safe motherhood introduced by Dickson and appealed to them to embrace it.

132 mothers turn up in Liama community

When the committee landed at Liama community in Brass, over 132 pregnant women, nursing mothers and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) came out to embrace the programme. The team also visited Beletieama, Odioama, Ibidi, Dieama and Akabelekiri bringing the number of communities visited in the first phase of the exercise in Brass to nine.

The Regent of Egwe-ama community in Brass Local Government Area, Chief Timipre Saka Yabi hailed the programme. He said the safe motherhood initiative was a big relief to expectant mothers in Bayelsa State. He said it would save them the stress of struggling to raise money for antenatal care, delivery fee and other incidental expenses.   He also appealed to the state government to sustain the programme in order to achieve the desired result.

In his remarks, the leader of the Brass Sensitisation Sub-committee, Mr. Tarinyo Akono told the Regent that the purpose of the visit was to intimate him on the safe motherhood initiative put in place by the government adding that the committee also came to sensitize the women in his domain about the programme.

While sensitizing the women at the community hall, Akono said that government initiated the safe motherhood policy to reduce the rate of infant and maternal death in the state.

Speaking at Liama Community, the Secretary of the Women group, Mrs. Rachael Bishop expressed delight that the women of the community were being involved in the agenda of government. She said the community had been neglected for too long and thanked Governor Dickson for bringing safe motherhood to them.

Also when the Safe Motherhood Sensitisation Sub-committee for Ogbia Local Government Area, it told the people in the area that the state government was working hard to reduce the high infant and maternal mortality rate in the state by providing access to decent healthcare.

The Chairman of the sub-committee, Ogio Ipigansi said to drastically reduce infant and maternal deaths the government initiated the safe motherhood programme to open up access to healthcare, especially for expectant mothers. Ogio advised the women of Elebele to embrace the programme in order to reciprocate government’s good gesture in investing heavily in the initiative.

The Women Leader of the community, Mrs. Amikpaoni  Markson appealed to the state government to post qualified medical personnel to the health centre and to renovate the health facility.

At Emeyal 1 community, one of the participants, Mrs. Patience Ojoko appealed to the medical personnel to always be at their duty post to boost the safe motherhood initiative. At Imiringi community, one of the participants, Constance Adumein, called for the establishment of a health center in the community.

The committee also paid similar visits to Kolo and Otuasega communities where the women expressed delight at the safe motherhood initiative and promised to pass the message to other women who were not present at the sensitisation session.

Advocacy committee weathers Southern Ijaw storm

Most communities in Southern Ijaw, the largest local government area in Bayelsa, were visited by the advocacy committee. They passed through rivulets, waterways and creeks to identify the communities and take the message to them. Members of the committee displayed courage as they navigated their way to the communities. They were, however, happy that the people embraced their message.

For instance at Korokorosei in Southern Ijaw, the Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman, Mr. Francis Jephthah said the community would embrace the safe motherhood initiative, describing it as one of the best things to have happened to women in the state.

Describing the programme as a laudable initiative, the CDC chairman called on government to introduce more of such programmes that would improve the wellbeing of the masses. He expressed appreciation to the state government for its readiness to cater for the health of both mother and child.

Responding to the issue of non availability of doctors raised by one of the participants of the safe motherhood session, a member of the Safe Motherhood Sensitisation Sub-committee, Nicodemus Dauebi said doctors would be employed. He said the government commenced a project of building health facilities in all the communities. Included in the project according to him are residential quarters for doctors.

At Ogboinbiri, the CDC Chairman, Mr. Pere Corporal remarked that the Restoration Government’s strides in the health sector was commendable. He, however, urged  the government to improve on the facilities in the health centres and deploy more workers to the centre.

The CDC chairman, who is also the Acting Paramount Ruler of the community, Mr Biewari Moses said that access to quality health services was paramount to pregnant women and commended the state government for the programme.

The sensitisation sub-committee also visited Enewari, Opuama, Polobubou and Ekowe communities, where the leadership of the various towns, in their separate remarks lauded Dickson for introducing the safe motherhood programme and promised that their women would embrace it.

The Sagbama tour and TBA’s endorsement  

At Sagbama, the local government area of Dickson, the committee reiterated the government’s commitment to ensure that every pregnant   in the state has access to free and qualitative healthcare.

The Chairperson, Sagbama Safe Motherhood Sensitisation Sub Committee, Mrs. Ebi Kakandarat spoke at Angalabiri in Sagbama. She explained that the objective of the programme was to ensure that no woman died during pregnancy or childbirth.

He added that most infant and maternal death could be prevented if women were given adequate medical attention during pregnancy and childbirth. Kakandarat encouraged Angalabiri women to register at the health centre nearest to them in order to benefit from the safe motherhood initiative.

He enumerated some of the benefits of the policy to include monthly N3,000 incentive throughout the period of pregnancy and up to two months after delivery.

Other incentives are free delivery pack that contains a pack of baby wipes, baby soap, jelly, baby towel, mucus extractor and umbilical chord gel.  Responding, the Community Development Secretary of Angalabiri, Mr. Anthony Yobogha lauded Dickson for the safe motherhood initiative.

Also, Caretaker Committee Chairman of Sagbama Local Government Council, Mr. Michael Magbisa endorsed the programme. The Chairman described Dickson as a kind-hearted leader who understands the pains associated with the loss of a loved one. He called on pregnant women in the area to take advantage of the programme by registering for antenatal and attend clinics regularly to ensure healthy pregnancy and safe delivery of healthy babies.

Magbisa, who was represented by the Vice-Chairman, Mrs. Vivian Ogboro, said Dickson was a pacesetter for approval of N1.2billion to facilitate the immediate take off of the construction of health centres across the 105 wards in the state.

In his remark, the Amanaowei of Sagbama, King Ojo Magbisa advised pregnant women in the community to register at the designated health centres to benefit from the humanitarian scheme. Magbisa, however, warned against unwanted and teenage pregnancies saying that the scheme was not an avenue for irresponsible behaviour.

Also speaking, the wife of the council chairman, Mrs. Joy Magbisa enjoined Sagbama women to buy into the safe motherhood initiative.

At the Oruamabiri community in Nembe, a  traditional birth attendant, Mrs” Bogomote Otuma threw her weight behind the safe motherhood initiative. The endorsement was a big surprise especially knowing that the scheme would take away her customers and that of her colleagues.

But Mrs. Otuma, who doubles as the woman leader of the community said the programme was a welcome development and thanked the state government for it.

She advised all pregnant women to buy into the safe motherhood initiative and go for antenatal care at any health center nearest to them so as to benefit from the government initiative.

Another participant, Mrs. Regina Scent commended government for bringing this initiative to the grassroot. She stated that the programme would reduce the infant and maternal mortality rate in the community.

She called on pregnant women to embrace the initiative just as she urged government to expedite action in the building of the 105 health centres across the state, pointing out that it will enhance the wellbeing of the citizenry.

Monarchs’ commendations 

Traditional rulers in Bayelsa have continued to heap praises on Dickson for the safe motherhood initiative. They also commended efforts of the sensitization team to sell the policy. At each community visited by various sub-committees, the traditional rulers expressed excitement that such programme was initiated by the government.

For example, the Traditional Ruler of Liama community, Chief Osene Osene described the safe motherhood initiative as the “morning dew”. He said that it would be beneficial to the women of the state.

He assured the members of the advocacy team that the women of Elebele in Ogbia would be effectively mobilised for the sensitisation exercise. He said the least his community could do to appreciate Dickson for the initiative was to wholly embrace and support the safe motherhood programme.

Also the Paramount Ruler of Anyama Ijaw Town in Southern Ijaw, Anyan (V) of Ayama Ijaw, Chief Amen Sariki, described the ongoing sensitization as a welcome development.

Sariki, who played host to the sensitization sub- committee led by Nicodemus Dauebi, commended the state government for the awareness campaign, saying it would help to check cases of infant and maternal mortality.

He assured the sensitisation team that women in the community would turn out in their numbers to embrace the programme. The Paramount Ruler directed the Compound Chiefs to pass the message to their compounds.

He said most communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area were in a dire need of health centers to prevent and tackle emergencies during pregnancy. He added that the programme was timely, considering that two women in the community were rushed to Yenagoa recently due to complications arising from childbirth.

At Otuan community, the Paramount Ruler, Chief Edward Tokpo expressed joy and appreciation to the state government for the programme. At Amassoma community, the Southern Ijaw team was received by the Amananaowei, Chief Graham Naingba, who thanked the team for its tireless efforts in propagating the message of good health for both mother and child.

He pledged the readiness of the community to key into the programme and expressed optimism that it would be a huge success. Receiving the team at Obogoro, in Yenagoa, the Monarch of Atissa Kingdom, King Godwin Igodo urged members of the team to spread the good news to all the nooks and crannies of Obogoro and the Atissa Kingdom as a whole.

He urged all expectant mothers in the area to embrace the initiative in order to reduce infant and maternal mortality in the state. He  encouraged the women to embrace the programme and called on government to build healthcare facility in the community to aleviate the plight of women there.

Also, the Paramount Ruler of Sampou Community in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area, Chief F. C. O. Usikoromugha applauded the safe motherhood programme of the state government, describing it as a deliberate policy to save pregnant women and newborns from preventable deaths.

While playing host to the KOLGA sub-committee on the sensitization in his palace, the paramount ruler stated that the programme would greatly encourage pregnant women to patronise government health facilities to access quality health services.

On his part, the Ibedaowei of Kolokuma clan, His Royal Majesty Agara Onya Mozi (Kala Okun III) wondered why Governor Dickson has so much passion for health related issues, even as a lawyer.

He said the governor has brought smiles to the faces of pregnant women with the safe motherhood initiative and thanked him for making Bayelsa a destination for medical tourism.

Culled from here


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