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April 14, 2024

We use art to stress maternal health importance in Nigeria- Ihekweazu

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By Abujah Racheal

Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu, Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, has hinted that the organisation and its partners were using art to highlight the importance for maternal health in the country.

Ihekweazu said this in Abuja at the second edition of the ‘Celebrating Womanhood Art Gala’, themed “Elevating Women’s Voices for Quality Maternal Healthcare”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that this was part of the activities to commemorate International Women’s Month.

The organiser, Nigeria Health Watch, said that the theme acknowledged that women’s perspectives, insights, needs and experiences were frequently overlooked in decision-making, policy design and implementation.

The managing director said that no woman deserves to die while giving birth in the country.

Ihekweazu said that the art gala aims to advocate for maternal health programmes and services that incorporate and centre women’s experiences and perspectives to improve the quality of maternal care in the country.

“Art has been used to record history, shape culture, cultivate imagination, and encourage individual and social transformation,” she explained.

She said that the goal of this year’s art gala was to amplify the voices and experiences of women, using art to raise awareness about the need for meaningful engagement, consultation, and listening to the perspective and experiences of women.

“If our voices as women are an essential part of our humanity, then we lose some of our humanity when we as women are made voiceless. Women having a voice are crucial and our voices must be heard. Silence is what allows women to suffer without any recourse,” she said.

The wife of the Kebbi Governor and Founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation (MCF), Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, said it was no secret that Nigeria has a lot of maternal health issues, including Kebbi.

Bagudu said that various interventions from partners, the government and civil society, have helped to improve maternal health indices in Kebbi.

She said that the state leveraged the existence of community development committees to influence decisions and social behaviour, and this had made a huge difference in maternal indices in the State.

Ms Iyadunni Olubode, MSD for Mother, Director of Nigeria Programmes, said that a woman’s perception of the care she receives is an integral part of her clinical experience.

Olubode said it is, therefore, an important consideration in improving the quality of care in the country.

She said that the formal channels to solicit and integrate women’s perspectives and preferences would fortify and sustain efforts to improve quality throughout the continuum of maternity care, at every level of the health system and for all women everywhere across the country.

According to her, Women’s perspectives and experiences before, during and after childbirth provide critical insights into how to strengthen maternity care for all women in the country and should be a guiding force in developing and implementing equitable solutions.

She expressed joy over celebrating the diversity and indomitable spirit of women all over the country, represented by each woman at the event and depicted in the different art forms seen and still to be seen.

MSD for Mothers is a 10-year, 500 million dollars initiative aimed at reducing preventable maternal mortality worldwide.

Ms Onyedikachi Ewe, Senior programmes and Advocacy Manager at the Nigeria Health Watch, said that art can attract attention, evoke emotion, sustain interest and stimulate memorable responses.

Ewe said for these reasons, “the organisation has decided to fuse arts in our advocacy and as a creative way to build knowledge and raise awareness on maternal health issues in the country.”

According to her, “If any progress is to be made towards achieving or contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target of reducing global maternal deaths to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, then we must prioritise listening to women’s voices to understand their unique needs, perspectives and experiences.”

Meanwhile, Mrs Chika Offor, Chair of Health Sector Reform Coalition, said that the lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy for a woman in the country is worrisome.

Offor commended what Nigeria Health Watch and partners had put in place to highlight the suffering of a Nigerian mother.

She called on the government to focus on reducing the high maternal and neonatal mortality rate in the country.

“The situation which has been the case for far too long is unacceptable and it is time we do things right,” she said.

NAN recalls that the event began with a walk-through, led by Dr Ngozi Akande, Female Artists Association of Nigeria, who guided the guests through the curated artwork depicting the health challenges women face in the country.

The Nigeria Health Watch held its first celebration of the Womanhood Art Gala in 2021.(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Vincent Obi

Ismail Abdulaziz

Deputy Editor in Chief, Website & State House Bureau, Abuja.
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