Breakthrough Action-Nigeria, a USAID funded health partner in Ebonyi State, has committed to redoubling its efforts in ensuring that the greatest number of targeted population obtain the free health services available in the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health week activities ongoing in the state.
The acting State Coordinator, Breakthrough Action-Nigeria, Ebonyi Field Office, Rabiat Hassan Ahmed, said this.
Ahmed expressed the commitment during the official flag-off of the 2023 second round Maternal, Newborn and Child Health week.
The event was held Monday at the Mother and Child Hospital, Azuiyiokwu, Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital.
The organisation said it would employ its established community structures to effectively mobilise eligible target persons to various designated centres and facilities across the state to take advantage of the week and fully benefit from the offered health services.
Ahmed explained that apart from traditional and religious leaders, the organisation would partner with its trained community volunteers, Ward Development Committees and local government coordinators to amplify the message of the health week in order to enhance the patronage of the targeted population especially women and children across the state.
Ahmed said: “The MNCH week activities is something that aligns with one of our goals of increasing the practice of priority behaviours around Maternal newborn, and that is a very big thing for Breakthrough Action-Nigeria.
“We have been supporting this state since 2018 so that it can achieve maximum results in primary healthcare services in general.
“For this round of MNCH week, Breakthrough Action-Nigeria will be leveraging on its community structures to mobilise eligible target persons to various designated locations so that they can fully access the various health interventions in line with the MNCH week.”
Ahmed further explained that Breakthrough Action-Nigeria as a social and behaviour change project has the goal of promoting the practice of priority health behaviours around maternal, newborn child health plus nutrition; focusing also on malaria, family planning and reproductive health; tuberculosis, COVID-19 and other priority zoonotic diseases, both at the national and state levels.
Flagging-off the activities, the Special Guest at the event and wife of the Ebonyi State Governor, Mary-Maudline Uzoamaka Nwifuru, stated that the activities were in line with her husband’s governance principle, which focuses on the people’s charter of needs.
Nwifuru noted that her husband’s giant strides in the health sector within these few months in office has yielded the recruitment of medical and paramedical personnel to combat the hitherto acute shortage of human resources for health in the state.
She added that massive renovations and equipment of health facilities, payment of workers premium for health insurance and payments of counterpart funding for various bilateral health agreements among others were also testimonials of the importance the administration attach to health
Appreciating Breakthrough Action-Nigeria, Helen Keller International, Vitamin Angels, UNICEF and other partners in the State for their support, Nwifuru emphasised that her office, in complimenting her husband’s efforts, launched war against all forms of Gender-Based Violence, provided insurance for 100 Sickle Cell patients and commenced collaborations with UNFPA and other partners through her pet project: Better Health for Rural Women, Children and Internally Displaced Persons Foundation.
She further assured: “My office shall continue to prioritise the welfare and well-being of children, women and internally displaced persons regardless of their gender, age, socio-economic and educational background.”
In an opening remark, the State Commissioner for Health, Moses Ekuma, lamented the high rate of malnourished children in the State, describing such as unacceptable.
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He gave assurance that the present government under Governor Francis Nwifuru was poised to positively changing the trend in line with his health friendly disposition under the people’s Charter of Needs.
Ekuma noted: “The result from the first round conducted in June/July this year showed that 96% of targeted children ages 0-59 months received vitamin A supplementation, 92 percent were dewormed and 0.03 percent of 579,214 children between 12 to 59 months of age screened for nutritional status were severely malnourished.
“This state of malnutrition is unacceptable as the government under Right Honourable Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru is not only health friendly but centred his administration on the people’s charter of needs.
He added: “In this second round of MNCHW, we are calling on all stakeholders, the market women, teachers, religious and traditional leaders to release their children, mothers and caregivers to accept the services being provided.”
Highlight of the event was the administration of Vitamin A supplementation and other services on children by the wife of the Governor.