From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
A group known as Network of Religious Leaders Living With/ Affected by HIV/AIDS (NINERELA+) has flagged off a campaign on Universal Access to Maternal and Child Health among faith-based Women Leaders in Benue State.
The event which was organized in conjunction with the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MOWASD) also witnessed a road walk by women religious leaders in the state to create awareness on the need for maternal and child health to be taken seriously by all.
Speaking during the flag off of the campaign which held at the Pauline Makka Center in Makurdi, the Benue State capital on Wednesday, state Coordinator of NINERELA+, Dr. Abigail Gire said the campaign is to amplify the voices of women as they speak with one voice on issues of great concern to them.
“This is a women solidarity campaign that calls for prioritization of indigent/vulnerable women and children in the pursuit of UHC through health insurance coverage and quality Primary Healthcare Services.
“It is hoped that this campaign will increase the consciousness on the need to address the gaps in equitable access to Maternal and Child health services and achievement of the target on UHC in the country.
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On his part, Executive Secretary of Benue State Action Committee on AIDS, (BenSACA), Dr Tyo Terhile who described the project as very apt, stated that over 70 percent of complications that lead to maternal deaths during childbirth can be prevented.
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“All complications that lead to death of women at child birth are not predictable but they all have warning signs. Hence the need to start planning early for delivery,” Terhile said.
The BenSACA boss enjoined religious leaders to encourage their followers to seek medical care early enough especially when they notice those early warning signs.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Tabitha Igirgi lamented the increasing rate of maternal mortality in the state urged religious leaders to encourage women in their congregation to take their health seriously.
Mrs Igirgi who was represented by the Director of Women Affairs in the Ministry, Mrs Doshima Ageh expressed worry that teething problems about maternal and child health are still being discussed in the 21st century, even as she called on religious leaders in the state to encourage their followers, especially pregnant women to always seek medical care in time.
The event was attended by leaders of the Christan Association of Nigeria, CAN, Jama’atu Nasril Isl (JNI), NHIS WOWICAN and FOMWAM.