Kaltungo town in the Kaltungo Local Government Area of Gombe State recently welcomed the MamaYe-Evidence4Action movement of call to action for the improvement of maternal and newborn health.
In July 2017, MamaYe launched in Gombe State, having supported and worked with the Gombe State Accountability Mechanism for Maternal and Newborn Health (GoSAM) to develop scorecards to measure the performance of the State’s health apparatus in maternal and newborn health (MNH) and health budget.
While GoSAM looks at MNH indicators such as the percentage of antenatal/postnatal care attendance, family planning, etc, and health budget indicators such as transparency, budget release and so on, the super activists, who are a group of MNH activists trained and supported by MamaYe, take charge of rallying their community members to participate in individual and group actions to improve MNH. Actions such as voluntary blood donation, encouraging pregnant women and even helping them to attend antenatal care and to be delivered of their babies in a health facility with a trained birth attendant are what the super activists embark on.
Kaltungo Local Government is one of the areas in Gombe State where many individuals have contributed in one way or the other to help improve MNH. These individuals are motivated and trained to contribute to helping pregnant women and newborns survive.
Maternal mortality ratio in Gombe State is at 1002/100,000 live births (Gombe State Strategic Health Development Plan 2015-2016, pg 8). In this light, the MamaYe Campaign Lead, Fola Richie-Adewusi, encouraged the Kaltungo community to start taking action on MNH rather than always waiting for the government to do everything. Fola encouraged the audience to stop resigning to fate and to start taking action on MNH, as many maternal and newborn deaths are preventable, but that someone needs to activate the prevention.
Fola said, “There is an urgent need to support MamaYe-Evidence4Action to reach out to communities who are yet to be sensitised on maternal and newborn deaths so as to reduce the rate at which pregnant women and newborns lose their lives.”
Fola Richie-Adewusi, MamaYe Campaign Lead
While calling on the community people to volunteer to become super activists for MNH intervention, Fola said that simple tasks as donating blood voluntarily, encouraging other people to donate blood, encouraging pregnant women to attend antenatal care and to be delivered of their babies at the health facility, are some of the actions that super activists could take to improve the health of a pregnant woman or a newborn in their community.
Audience at the launch
Some nurses and midwives from health facilities in Kaltungo
Religious leaders from Kaltungo
Gombe State Health Commissioner, Dr Kennedy Ishaya was represented by Dr James Mahdi, Director, Hospital Services, Gombe State Ministry of Health. In his opening remarks, Dr Ishaya said that MamaYe’s evidence-based intervention is helping the State in some of the activities that the government would not have been able to handle all by itself. He encouraged the audience to participate as super activists so that the State may conveniently take ownership of MamaYe’s approach to improvement of maternal and newborn health in the State.
Dr James Mahdi (standing)
Garus Sarki Mentor, Deputy Director of Public Health Care in Kaltungo emphasised the importance of coming together to help one another survive. To set an example, he volunteered to become a super activist in order to encourage more people to participate. He did this after citing examples of how simple involvement in the affairs of pregnant women have helped save their lives.
Introducing the call for action to improve MNH in Kaltungo was even more important as the Mai Kaltungo (the traditional ruler of the Kaltungo town), Engineer Saleh Muhammed had already set precedence with numerous actions. The Mai would visit hard to reach areas, some times on foot, to personally experience the condition of his people. He converted one of the palace offices to a clinic so that pregnant women and newborns may access care, and he leads inquiry into the deaths of pregnant women and newborns.
Mai Kaltungo, Alhaji Engineer Saleh Muhammed
The Mai Kaltungo’s unique leadership work in MNH improvement challenged the attendees at the launch. If the leader could do that much to help pregnant women and newborns survive, the followers should not bring up any excuse. Hence, many attendees, who were impressed by the action of the Mai and the achievements of those who have already become super activists, signed up and pledged to become part of those who are taking selfless actions to help pregnant women and newborns survive.
L-R: Government and Traditional Leader reps & MamaYe team
Traditional singers and dancers entertaining the audience with a theme act on pregnancy and childbirth