The efforts of Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) and Development Communications Network (DevComs) at building the capacity of the media in maternal health discourse in Kaduna, North West Nigeria gained a mile stone with the recent additional budget line created to finance all components of child birth spacing by the Kaduna State government.
AMDF and DevComs had in partnership with Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) and Family Health Advocates of Nigeria (FHANI) engaged the media to support the child spacing initiative as a panacea to reducing maternal death rate in Northern Nigeria. This was done by training journalists and other media workers on reporting child spacing.
Through targeted messages that are strategically developed and disseminated, the media has supported actions by government and development partners. This has raised awareness among women on the need to access child spacing commodities and has deepened government’s commitment towards tackling maternal and child deaths in the Kaduna state.
In 2017, the state government had created a budget line which addressed procurement of consumables, one of the 6 key components of the programme.
However, the recent move under the Budget line titled ‘Family Planning (FP) Programme’ with Budget Code 22020611 will address the remaining 5 components, comprising Demand Generation and Behavioural Change Communication; Staff Training; Forecasting and Distribution Logistics; Policy and Financing; as well as Supervision, Monitoring and Coordination.
These 6 components are seen by experts as key to increasing the number of women who want to space their child births, ultimately reducing maternal death.
Kaduna has been tasked by federal government to raise the percentage of women who want to space their births from 20% in 2015 to 46.5% by 2018. It was part of a global commitment Nigeria made in London in 2012 – aimed at reducing the country’s high maternal death burden.
Currently only 24% of women of reproductive age in the state are able to space, this is largely due to non-investment in the programme as required. But ongoing effort by the state government, development partners, local NGOs, religious leaders, traditional rulers and the media is helping the state in reaching the farthest with quality information and services.
No doubt, Kaduna State has been in the forefront of fighting maternal and child deaths, this is reflected in the creation of enabling environment for safe motherhood programming, as well as creation of a dedicated child spacing budget line, among others. These actions have attracted not less than 11 development partners who are currently working in the state on child spacing programming, aside other partners working on other reproductive health interventions.
The state has recently procured child spacing consumables worth about N100 million for distribution to health facilities, for women to access the services free, contrary to N500 being paid. This is the first stride by any State in Nigeria on reducing maternal deaths through child spacing programming.
With this feat, AMDF will not relent in continuous engagement with the media to help women understand where to access these free services, especially now that a budgetary provision is made to address demand generation.
AMDF will also continue to partner relevant stakeholders in the area of media capacity development, for them to understand their role better and play it effectively in reducing maternal deaths.