The Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) has decried the high rate if maternal mortality in Nigeria, while noting that the North contributes the highest number of deaths.
AMDF Coordinator, Sekyen Dadik expressed this in a welcome address of the second edition of the MediaAfrica 2017 with the theme: “MNCH in Nigeria: Progress, Opportunities and Challenges: Role of the Media in Curbing Maternal Death” held in Kaduna on Tuesday.
“Maternal Mortality still remains high in Nigeria – the north contributing the greatest share – the NDHS 2013 pegs the national figure at 576 deaths per 100,000 live births. But Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015 as conducted by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group, and the United Nations Population Division. Suggests a figure as high as 814 deaths per 100,000 live births.
“No doubt this is alarming, and calls for all hands to be on deck to overcome the challenge. Nigeria, especially northern states must change their approach. One potent tool to carry the campaign further is the media – it has proven to be successful in many campaigns through policy advocacy and social mobilization.
“In the immediate environment, we know it has worked in polio and it is working in family planning/child spacing campaign,” she said.
She emphasized that it is AMDF’s desire that the conference will go beyond rhetoric to birth action plans that will be duly followed and will be evident in an improved maternal health and significant reduction in maternal and child mortality.
Speaking further, she said that MediaAfrica at a broader level seeks to explore the place of media in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as outlined by the United Nations.
“AMDF has come to realize that no development program and project can succeed without the active engagement of Media. This is because the media has the ability to influence and cause change in individual’s behavior and lifestyle, as well as mobilizing communities for positive action.
“Development partners and funders usually support projects for a particular period of time and leave as soon as the project life is over – whether it is a success or not, but the media remains with the people and its responsibility of enlightening and educating the public continues – to the extent of mobilizing communities to take action on issues that affects them,” she stressed.
She said that they believe the media needs to be engaged more as advocates of development issues, pointing out that this will reduce fatigue on the part of Government, Partners, NGOs CSOs, and yield good results.
“To this end, MediaAfrica 2017 is x-raying MNCH in Nigeria: Progress, Opportunities and Challenges: Role of the Media in Curbing Maternal Deaths. It is aimed at awakening the consciousness of media practitioners to deeply understand their role in reducing maternal death rate, especially in northern Nigeria, as well as help partners and government on media engagement strategies for effective result,” she said.
For those who were hearing of AMDF for the first time, she said that it is a non-governmental, non-political and non-profit media development organization that strengthens media system, and provides professional support to Journalists, Media Organizations, CSOs.
“AMDF is passionate in promoting Development Journalism and Investigative Reporting amongst Nigerian Journalists, and has trained and supported Journalists in Kaduna North West and Gombe North East Nigeria on development and investigative journalism.
“To step up the capacity of Journalists in engaging the Social Media for news production and dissemination. In furtherance of free press, AMDF has trained journalists on the effective use of social media and have supported a number to run blogs and news websites.
“Through our Annual Media Clinic, we have also been engaging media executives and practitioners, civil society organizations and development partners in discussing media development issues to identify better strategies for agenda setting.
“AMDF understands the importance of media in promoting development agenda like maternal and child health, but we are also aware that a wide gap exists in how knowledgeable journalists are on the subject matter, as well as in advocacy, especially in northern Nigeria. We therefore recommend an active engagement of the media by development partners, civil society organizations and professional organizations, as against inviting them to cover events and other publicity seeking activities,” she suggested.
She added that AMDF is willing to support organisations, citing examples of some they have supported.
“We have supported UNICEF, Kaduna Office to train producers, program Directors and Chief Media Executives from North West and North Central Nigeria on Development Journalism with emphasis on essential family practices and health reporting.
“AMDF is in partnership with the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association and Hemophilia Foundation of Nigeria in training journalists on reporting zoonotic diseases and hemophilia respectively.
“We have facilitated a media forum in Kaduna for National Democratic Institute Abuja, to promote participation of women in politics, among other activities.
“AMDF have partnered Save the Children and Marie Stopes in Gombe, North East Nigeria in promoting media engagement in child spacing and Nutrition project.
We have also partnered Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in training Journalists and Civil society organizations in Kaduna on Understanding Budget Process, as well as Budget Tracking.
“In partnership with Family Health Advocates in Nigeria Initiatives (FHANI), AMDF is tracking 2017 family planning budget allocation in Kaduna State.
One of our biggest partner in Nigeria is Development Communication Networks (DEVCOMS) Lagos – we have implemented their projects in Kaduna. We are honoured today with the presence of their founder and Executive Director, Mr. Akin Jimoh in this event.
“I want to use this opportunity to appreciate Kaduna State Government for having the presence of key officials in this function, this goes to show how passionate the government is on progress in this direction. Beyond their official capacities, we know how passionate each of them is on the subject matter – we have met at several fora discussing the issue, and from their contributions, we know where they stand.
“We thank Pathfinder International for believing in us. The greatest financial support for this activity came from them. We also appreciate DevComs for financial support. We appreciate NURHI for their equipment and manpower. We appreciate I – Care Women and Youth Initiative for the support rendered. We appreciate the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) for believing in us, and continued support,” she said.