How ISMPH, EU-ACT project is empowering women of Kwali community to raise healthy children

According to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) at least 14.5 million Nigerians were facing acute food insecurity, which was attributed to persisting insecurity and the overbearing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, (NDHS) indicates that Nigeria has 35 million children under the age of five, with 14 million of them being stunted, while 3 million are wasted and 24 million are anaemic due to poor nutrition.

45 percent of deaths in children under the age of five was also said to be attributable to malnutrition.

Worried by the development and seeking innovative means to reverse the trend, the International Institute of Media in Public Health, (ISMPH) through support from the European Union Agent for Citizen-driven Transformation, (EU-ACT), has been working with select communities around the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) to educate women on how to make healthy meals from affordable food items and keep their children healthy and protected from the negative impacts of malnutrition.

The ISMPH/EU-ACT project was in Kwali to educate women on not just healthy cooking but also, production of Charcoal Briquettes and Organic Fertilizer.

Recall that Vision FM had reported about a similar activity in Barangoni, a community in Bwari Area Council of the FCT where thirty women had been trained on production of Charcoal Briquettes and Organic Fertilizer.

The Executive Director, International Society of Media in Public Health, (ISMP), Moji Makanjuola believes that an empowered, knowledgeable and informed woman has the required prerequisites to birth healthy children that will serve as agents of development in Nigeria.

Makanjuola expresses optimism that the initiative of training and empowering women would be adopted across the country to boost the number of women who can effectively cater for the nutritional needs of their families, also explaining that arming women with vital information and economic power are important steps to fighting malnutrition.

“This training I would say that it is multi-purpose because we are not only teaching them how to make money but we are also teaching them some things that mothers should know and also encouraging the fact that we have some of these foods that they can give their children that are affordable.

Read Also: How ISMPH is supporting mothers in FCT to tackle malnutrition

“With their little money that we hope that they could make from this, they themselves will be able to feed the children well and we would have healthy Nigerian children who are the leaders, I don’t say of tomorrow, but of today.

“An empowered woman, a knowledgeable woman, an informed woman will be able to have healthy children who are the soldiers for development to help grow Nigeria to compete effectively in the committee of nations.”

The Esu of Kwali Dr. Shaban Nizazzo expressed excitement to have the training in his community, given the promising opportunities it offers at both reducing poverty and malnutrition related diseases.

Dr. Nizazzo said he was hopeful that at the end of the training, the situation of his subjects will see much improvement from what it currently is.

“When she came with her team we thought yes, I think the person whom we actually need has finally come and then we opened ourselves to her and then allowed her to do this programme for us.

“And therefore, we are feeling that at the end of the programme the situation of our people will not be the same, it will be improved, they will have a good direction and they will have a good purpose of life for themselves.

“And therefore, we feel elevated that this programme has come and we are hoping and also thinking that more and more NGOs like that should come to us.”

Kwali is one of the two Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory – FCT – benefiting from the ISMPH, EU-ACT project.

healthcare centers (1)

About 40 percent of Nigeria’s primary healthcare centers lack access to electricity

The United States Agency for International Development, (USAID) Power Africa Nigeria Power Sector Program, USAID Integrated Health Program, and the Government of Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency have launched a call-to-action to provide more primary healthcare centers (PHCs) with clean, reliable, and sustainable power in Nigeria.

This is according to a statement released by the United States Embassy in Abuja and made available to our correspondent.
Speaking on behalf of USAID, the Director of the Office of Health Population Nutrition Paul McDermott said, “We view this as an opportunity for partners and stakeholders in both the energy and health sectors to make commitments, and work collectively to ensure that fully functional primary healthcare centers can be accessed by all Nigerians.”

Read: Why The Nigerian Government Should Provide Primary HealthCare Services

The statement also explained that the USAID-funded Sustainable Energy For All 2022 Powering Healthcare Roadmap estimates that around 40 percent of Nigeria’s primary healthcare centers lack access to electricity.
“By providing access to a stable power supply, PHCs can provide essential services to patients, such as those receiving maternal and newborn care at time of delivery, cold storage for vaccinations, running medical equipment, and delivering services after dark.

“The call-to-action outlines activities that power and healthcare sector stakeholders can implement to accelerate PHC electrification, and challenges stakeholders to achieve clean electrification solutions for 1,000 PHCs by 2023 and a total of 10,000 PHCs by 2030,” the statement read in part.

The Head of the Nigeria Electrification Project Program Management Unit at the Rural Electrification Agency Anita Otubu said, “We are looking to bridge the energy access gaps in primary healthcare centers across the country and we call on everyone to take immediate action on the call-to-action.”
USAID’s Power Africa Nigeria Power Sector Program, in collaboration with the Rural Electrification Agency, is supporting programs in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, which aim to sustainably electrify over 700 Primary Health Centres by the end of 2023.

“USAID will continue to support power and healthcare sector stakeholders to expand electricity access to PHCs across Nigeria.”


USAID applauds nurses, midwives others in malaria fight

The United States of America says over the past year, it has in partnership with Nigeria, advanced the fight against malaria, despite immense challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement issued by USAID in Abuja and made available to our correspondent, it was observed that committed and courageous frontline health workers, especially nurses, midwives, and community health workers, across the country went the extra mile to ensure essential malaria services were sustained – their efforts saved lives and supported community resilience.


“The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) has partnered with Nigeria to fight malaria since 2011, contributing $768 million to date and $74 million in FY 2021. PMI’s Annual Report, released today, showcases how the strong partnership between the United States and Nigeria enabled robust and effective malaria services to continue in FY 2021, even as COVID-19 caused enormous strain on the health system.

“Through PMI funding and programs, 58 million bed nets, 130 million fast acting medicines, and 82 million malaria test kits have been delivered to clinics and communities since 2011. In addition, 24 million preventive treatment doses were delivered to pregnant women and 13 million doses to children during the rainy season.

“In the past year, more than 3,666 health workers received training that amplified their ability to detect and treat malaria, while strengthening the health system overall and providing key skills to fight COVID-19 and future pandemics,” the statement read in part.

USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson was quoted as saying “I think what Nigeria is doing to advance more effective malaria prevention, treatment, and control is so important, especially the introduction of innovative tools to make better use of the data in real-time, and also to enhance quality of care via community-based health workers.”

It was noted that following assistance by PMI investments, Nigeria is progressing its fight against malaria using proven and cost-effective methods that save lives and promise a more healthy and prosperous future for families and communities.

Acting U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, Julie Wallace was also quoted thus, “With perseverance and strong global commitment we can end malaria in our lifetime. The United States is proud of our work with Nigeria in combating this deadly, yet entirely preventable, disease.”

Read: The Gates Foundation Support Nigeria To Fight Malaria

the United States as part of commitment to the reduction of the malaria burden and saving lives, the U.S Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa/Nigeria (USAMRD-A/N), also with support from the PMI, has been able to increase and strengthen the capacities of medical laboratory scientists in malaria microscopy, rapid testing, quality assurance, and laboratory supervision.

“USAMRD-A/N is also joining the State Ministries of Health in Akwa-Ibom and Benue, the National Malaria Elimination Programme, and the Nigerian Ministry of Defense in launching the National Malaria Slide Bank (NMSB) Project.

“The project will produce Nigeria’s first bank of validated, domestically developed slides for malaria microscopy training, external quality assurance, and future research purposes,” the statement further read.


66,000 locals in Kano and Jigawa set to get clean water as USAID invests $3.5 million

The United States Agency for International Development, (USAID) through Partners for Development has launched a three-year $3.5 million Water Improvement and Sanitation Enhancement, (WISE) activity to improve water safety in Jigawa and Kano states.

A statement from the US Embassy reveals that the WISE activity will reduce the occurrence and impact of waterborne diseases through improvements in access to clean drinking water and sanitation, and the adoption of key hygiene behaviors.

It was also explained that one of the first tasks will be to construct or rehabilitate 30 water access points and install 55 sanitation facilities in schools and community health centers; and it is hoped that these improved water access points will provide clean drinking water to more than 66,000 local residents.

An African girl holding a funnel while clean water pours out of the spout of a water pump into a water jug.

The statement quoted the USAID Deputy Mission Director, Katie Donohoe as saying, “Access to basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services within a community are the cornerstone of a healthy, equitable, and prosperous Nigeria. When this is done, each community will have a first line defense against the spread of infectious disease and allow children to spend more time in school.”

Read: Nutrition: Bauchi, Kebbi & Sokoto get $9.5 million from USAID

Also referenced in the statement is the Deputy Governor of Jigawa State, Umar Namadi said, “Water is life, and it has been one of the priorities of the Jigawa State government. We are ready to cooperate with the USAID WISE activity to ensure that safe drinking water is provided to the people of the state.”

“According to the 2019 Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping report, two out of five schools in Jigawa State, and three out of four in Kano State do not have access to reliable drinking water.

“Frontline healthcare workers also lack access to safe water and struggle to deliver high quality health services. The survey found that over half of community water access services in Jigawa broke down within their first year of operation, while over 20 percent in Kano no longer functioned after six months.

The WISE activity will work toward addressing some of these deficiencies and increase the capacity of local stakeholders to sustain and manage equitable access to water and sanitation,” the statement read in part.


How ISMPH is supporting mothers in FCT to tackle malnutrition

A good number of children in Barangoni community, a suburb in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and stunting.

This was noticed when a non-government organization, the International Society of Media in Public Health, ISMPH, took journalists on a field visit to the community as part of its European Union Agent for Citizen-driven Transformation, EU-ACT, Project.

READ: Did you know that Nigeria has highest malnutrition figures in sub-Saharan Africa and 2nd in the world?

The EU-Act Project which is operational in Bwari and Kwali Area Councils of the FCT is a nutrition centered project that seeks to empower women to ensure sustainability in the provision of good nutrition for families.

Baragoni is a community that is far flung from the bubbly town of Bwari and mostly inhabited by low income earners such as junior civil servants, petty traders and peasant farmers.

A walk through the community shows poor sanitation and hygiene practices as waste water could be seen flowing right through compounds with attendant flies and bad smell.

Gathered at the chief’s palace were women numbering close to fifty, all carrying children under-five years, showing various forms of malnutrition.

Halima is eight months old, very tiny, always crying, looking weak and the hair on her head almost falling off. She is said to be suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Halima’s mother died just immediately after giving birth to her, leaving Rabi Sule, her grandmother with the task of catering for nutrition needs but she could only do little, owing to the situation she found herself in.

Rabi spoke in Hausa and an interpreter related what she was saying.

“I lived in a community in Zamfara but had to leave to Barangoni because Zamfara is not well. My 20 years old daughter died immediately after giving birth to her second child in Zamfara.

“After her death, I have been responsible for taking care of the child. I have been breastfeeding the child and giving mild. I started giving only pap and breast because I don’t have money. From one month to three months it was milk and breast. We are just managing.

“I have seven children and with the two that my daughter left me with, they are now 9. My husband does small business and it has not been easy. As you can see, the baby is 8months yet looks like a 2 or 3 months old. If there is any way you can help, you should help.

“That is why I have come out here as they called me to come hoping to receive any help that I can get. It is not easy on my at all.”

Another woman in the community, Dorcas Gbatsaf is married to a secondary school teacher. Her child took ill and on visiting the hospital, she was told that the baby was suffering from malnutrition.

Gbatsaf said she was helpless because she had nothing doing, but expressed optimism that her lot will be better if she could be empowered with a skill to earn some income.

“My baby was sick and the problem is, she was not eating, her feeding was very bad, that is what the doctor told me. She is 11 months. She was not eating anything; anyone I give her she will not eat. I will now force her with akamu, after taking it she will vomit it.

“I am very happy for this meeting because I need something doing. I wish I had something doing, all these things that are happening to me and my children, not feeding well, with my children, things wouldn’t have been like that. Because I wish I had money with me, I will introduce my baby with this one, if the baby refuses to eat this one, I will now try another one. But since there is no money with me, I don’t have any other thing to do than to sit down and look at her.”

The Programme Officer on the EU-ACT project, Bukola Smith explained that ISMP believes in the need to tackle malnutrition sustainably, hence the decision to train and empower mothers of malnourished children to boost their capacity to earn and provide for their children.

“So we intend to empower mothers of malnourished children. The idea is to look at a sustainable solution to the issue of severe acute malnutrition. And while Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) is very effective, in a long term there is such limited supply.

“And so we have to think in bigger terms. What this programmes intends to achieve is to identify mothers of severely malnourished children and then empower them, give them skills, a means to make even greater income. And we are hoping to see how that transforms into providing better feeding for their children. And so we think it is a more sustainable solution.”

As the saying goes, if you want to empower an individual, empower a man, but when you want to empower a community, empower a woman; it is therefore hoped that the EU-ACT project of ISMPH, will improve nutrition in families of Barangoni community.

menstrual hygiene

Menstrual hygiene: USAID donates 40,000 Kotex Sanitary Pads to adolescent girls in Nigeria

As part of its projects to support the menstrual hygiene and wellbeing of young girls in Nigeria, the United States Agency for International Development, (USAID) has rolled out the distribution of 40,000 Kotex Sanitary Pads – a donation from U.S. multinational corporation Kimberly-Clark.

A statement from the United States Embassy, noted that over a six-month period, this initiative will reach more than 6,000 adolescent girls between 10 and 19 years old in Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Edo, Kano, Lagos, Niger, and Taraba states.

“Young women and girls in Nigeria face different challenges managing their menstruation across varying socio-cultural, economic, and environmental contexts.  These challenges include inadequate knowledge about proper menstruation management and lack of access to good menstrual hygiene management materials, which have far-reaching consequences,” the statement read in part.

USAID Deputy Office Director for Health, Mieko McKay was quoted as saying at the handover ceremony in Lagos that “The lack of access to menstrual hygiene resources has a serious impact on school attendance. This collaboration is a great example of how USAID engages with the private sector to improve the well-being, reproductive health, and school attendance of adolescent girls.”

Kimberly-Clark’s Government Relations Manager, Nigeria and East Africa, Zainab Obagun said, “We strongly believe in investments that go beyond monetary endowments to create sustainable programs that demystify stigmas that affect the girl child.”   She added, “This donation will empower more than 6,000 adolescent girls to benefit from USAID’s health interventions across Nigeria.” and improve their menstrual hygiene.

The statement further revealed that since 2020, USAID has reached over 500,000 orphans and vulnerable children through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This initiative provides comprehensive social welfare services to improve family stability and resilience. “Kimberly-Clark and USAID implementing partner, Association for Reproductive and Family Health, signed the agreement for the donation on January 28, 2022.” 

USAID Situation Room Tallen Patterson

HIV: USAID Launches OVC Situation Room in Partnership with Ministry of Women Affairs

The United States’ Agency for International Development, USAID, has in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, launched a new National Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Situation Room at the Ministry.

A statement from the US Embassy reveals that the USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson joined Federal Minister of Women Affairs Pauline Tallen to carry out the launch.

The new Situation Room will harmonize OVC program reporting and optimize the National OVC Management Information System and harness the power of data to help case managers respond effectively and provide appropriate services to help children affected by HIV in their families and communities.

USAID works closely with the Ministry to coordinate OVC interventions within its broader child protection and women’s empowerment mandate not only to mitigate the risks of HIV, but also to support caregivers to strengthen the economic resilience of their households.

Speaking at the launch, Patterson said the new Situation Room is a collaboration that will help Nigeria prevent violence against women, improve resilience of vulnerable children and their caregivers, and respond to the needs of survivors of violence.

“The mandate of the Ministry of Women Affairs — to promote women’s equality and opportunity and protect women and children from abuse and exploitation — also cuts across all USAID programming.

“This new Situation Room is a collaboration that will help Nigeria prevent violence against women, improve resilience of vulnerable children and their caregivers, and respond to the needs of survivors of violence.”

On her part, Tallen noted that OVC Situation Room will no doubt enhance the data generation and management at the national, regional and international levels.

USAID was also presented with an award of recognition for the Agency’s substantial investments in women and children in Nigeria over the past two decades, auspiciously timed to coincide with the annual 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence commemoration around the world.

Receiving the Award, Patterson said, “We are honored by this award,” Patterson said. “Our support to health care as well as livelihood training for caregivers through the Ministry of Women Affairs, will continue to ensure the nutritional, educational and other needs of some of the most vulnerable Nigerians are met. We look forward to further collaboration to protect children and promote women’s equality.”

Implemented by Palladium, Data.FI is among several USAID activities that help Nigeria provide essential social and health services to nearly 500,000 vulnerable children and their caregivers, including 13,000 children living with HIV.

Last year, more than 19,000 beneficiaries received USAID-supported GBV services in 7,500 government and private health service providers that provided counseling on gender inclusion, and gender-based violence prevention and response.

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day: Africa Unlikely to End AIDS as a Public Health Threat by 2030 – WHO

As the World commemorates the 2021 World AIDS Day, the Africa Regional Director of the World Health Organisation, WHO, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti has called on governments to prioritize investment in health funding for community-led, human rights-based, gender transformative responses to boost essential health workforce, and secure equitable access to life-saving medicines and health technologies.

The theme for this year World AIDS day is “End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemic”.

The Regional Director, revealed in her address that Africa is unlikely to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, after falling short of the expected 75% reduction in new HIV infections and 81% reduction in AIDS-related deaths in 2020.

She also observed that despite the very high percentages of people living with HIV who know their status, and treatment rates, new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are not proportionately decreasing.

“It remains critical for us to reach those who are fuelling the epidemic, addressing the persistent inequities in the provision of quality care and interventions. For instance, in West and Central Africa last year, key populations and their sexual partners accounted for 72% of new adult HIV infections. Yet punitive laws, policies, hostile social and cultural environments, and stigma and discrimination, including in the health sector, prevent them from accessing services.

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, young women are twice as likely to be living with HIV than men. For adolescents aged 15 to19 years, three in every five new infections are among girls who don’t have access to comprehensive sexuality education, who face sexual and gender-based violence, and live with harmful gender norms. They also have less access to school than their male peers. The HIV prevalence rate is currently at 1.4% among adults in Nigeria.

With COVID-19, people living with HIV appear to be at elevated risk for virus-related illness and death. Nearly 70% live in the WHO African Region, where only 4.5% of people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Speaking further, he revealed that as at last year, two out of every three new HIV infections occurred in the African Region, corresponding to almost 2500 new HIV infections every day and sadly, AIDS claimed the lives of 1300 persons every day, in spite of free access to effective treatment.

She however noted that as we commemorate World AIDS day, Africa has made significant progress against HIV in the past decade despite the challenges, as could be seen in the reduction of new infections by 43% and nearly halving AIDS-related deaths; while, 86% of people living with HIV know their status, and 76% are receiving antiretroviral therapy, in the African region.

“Going forward, we cannot afford to lose focus on the urgent need to end the inequities that drive AIDS and other epidemics around the world. It has been 40 years since the first HIV cases were reported. Yet, in Africa and globally, it remains a major public health concern.”

Botswana was particularly commended for being on the home stretch to eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission in what was described as a truly remarkable public health success, as only 16 countries have been certified for eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission, none of which had as large an epidemic.

“As efforts to tackle COVID-19 continue gathering force, and the world prepares itself against future pandemics, we risk repeating many of the same mistakes that have kept us from ending AIDS. Addressing inequality is critical to ending both AIDS and COVID-19 and preventing future pandemics – potentially saving millions of lives, and safeguarding our society.

As we commemorate World AIDS day, “We must ensure that everyone, everywhere, has equal access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care, including COVID-19 vaccinations and services.”

Family Planning

Pathfinder International Advocates for Creation of Family Planning Budget Lines in States

Media and Communication Officer, Pathfinder International – Nigeria, Bayo Ewuola has said the challenge with procurement of family planning commodities and provision of reproductive health services in Nigeria is anchored on two major issues – policy and funding – and a third, which is myth.

Ewuola stated this in Lafia during a 3-Day Orientation Workshop with National Level Media Partners on AFP Media Advocacy.

He explained that due to low funding for family planning, it is often difficult to provide commodities in hospitals for Nigerians who may require FP services.

According to him, government at state level in Nigeria do have dedicated budget lines for procurement of FP commodities and provision of FP services for citizens.

“It still all boils down to policy and funding because if the state is not making budget plans for family planning, there will be no way to procure commodities and there will be no commodities to send to health facilities in the states, there will be stock out of commodities, people in both and urban settlements will not have access to these commodities.

“The first step that the government must take is to ensure that there is budget line for FP. So as a result, they will be able to procure family planning consumables likes spirit, cotton wool. Then when that is done and the budget is released, they will be able to procure it and people can have access. But in the first place, the challenge we have is that there is no funding, there is no budget for it.

“So at the subnational level, our effort is to ensure that government make budget provision for family planning.

Ewuola also spoke on the need for an enabling environment which involves human capacity development in the healthcare sector to ensure quality service delivery of FP services.

He pointed out that proper training of service providers will check any issues that may arise from providers’ bias.

Ewuola said provision and enforcement of policies will mandate providers to ensure that services are judiciously delivered because it is a requirement of the law.

“Whenever there is policy on ground, we know that these providers are also supported, they are backed by rules, policies that these services must be delivered.

“And that is why there must be an enabling environment for Family Planning Services to be rendered to those who need it most in Nigeria.

“So when you are also talking about uptake, people have to come forward voluntarily because family planning uptake has to be voluntary.

“There is the issues of socio-cultural norms. Some people do not have enough information about it, knowledge about family planning, and that is why we are building a network of family planning champions who will talk about it from the religious perspective; and also we have traditional rulers who also wield great power in their communities. So, we ensure that these people talk about family planning and they tell their constituents that taking up family planning services is not a bad idea.”

Meanwhile, a publication on Advocacy for Family Planning shows that donors have continued to support the Nigerian government in funding FP commodities and programmes. It said for example, the Government of Nigeria spends about US$10–14 million annually on FP commodities, and of that amount, the government provides US$3 million and donors provide the remainder.

Government has also established the Infant, Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health (IMNCH) Millennium Development Goal (MDG) budget line for contraceptive procurement, with a commitment of annual government counterpart funding of US$3 million in 2011 and for the next 3 years (2012– 2014). There was also a pledge of an additional US$8.34 million in funding for Family Planning/Reproductive Health commodities (FP2020).END

Take action against cancer

Take Action Against Cancer Now Aisha Buhari Urges

The wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, has called on Nigerians to take action against cancer, a disease that’s ravaging the world.

She made the call in Abuja, at the annual five-kilometre “Walk Away Cancer” organised by Medicaid Cancer Foundation (MCF).

In Nigeria, an estimated 72,000 cancer deaths occur annually, and 102,000 new cases are diagnosed from its population of about 200 million people.

Globally, cancer is a major leading health ailment with an estimated 10 million incidences and six million deaths annually.

Aisha Buhari urged Nigerians on the need for regular check-ups and early detection of cancer to save lives.

The Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu, on his part acknowledged cancer as a complicated disease with expensive cost for treatment.

He said his wife and founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation had advocated for the inclusion of cancer treatment in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as a way to take action against cancer.

He said all of these were progress made through the high level advocacy to help the common man that cannot afford to pay out of pocket for cancer treatment.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire sensitised Nigerians to the dangers associated with the disease and the need for early discovery.

Ehanire, represented by Dr, Adebimpe Adebiyi, Director and Head of Department of Hospital Services in the ministry said early diagnosis would improve cancer treatment outcome.