‘Inter-ministerial collaboration is key to progress in maternal health’—Experts

By Abubakar Jimoh

The Chairman, Katsina State Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, Muhammad Bashir Usman has said inter-ministerial collaboration among the State Ministries of Heath, Information, Education and Women Affairs was paramount to effective and concerted intervention on maternal and child health in the state.

The Chairman made this known during an Executive-Media dialogue organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) aimed at bringing the State’s executives and media under one roof to brainstorm on necessary action for timely release and effective implementation of maternal and child health budget for efficient intervention and maximum impacts on the citizens.

He said: “While successive governments have made several efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality, inter-ministerial partnership and engagement among the health related Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), especially around budget and its implementation is key to efficient healthcare delivery.”

Acknowledging that North West region is faced with serious human resource gaps in the health sector, Usman said Katsina state recorded merely 507 out of 4835 midwifes required to provide maternal health services across the state.

He however, commended the recent policies, frameworks and guidelines initiated by the State Government to improve the situation such as persistent recruitment of additional health care personnel and introduction of health care education across higher institutions, as measures to mitigate high patients-to-doctor ratio in the state.

“The State in recent times has taken drastic step towards mitigating high patient-to-doctor ratio through persistent recruitment of additional health care personnel and introduction of health care education across higher institutions.

“As part of the strategy to create accessible, affordable and improved health care system, especially in the grassroots, Katsina State House of Assembly has taken a step to harmonize the State’s Primary Health Care through a Bill presently receiving legislative inputs,” Usman explained.
According to him, with over 6million population, the state’s maternal mortality rate stands at 634 per 100,000; infant mortality, 22 per 1000; and under-5 mortality, 36 per 1000 live births.

He urged realistic health budget composition through appropriate consultation with communities and relevant stakeholders by the media and civil society groups to promote effective implementation.

Also, Mr. Ibrahim Maiwada representing the State Ministry of Health added that mainstreaming maternal and child health as multi-sectoral issues through prioritized efforts among various Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the state would help in concerted effort to address maternal and child health.

The Snr. Program Officer (Gender and Reproductive Health), CISLAC, Chioma Kanu expressed concerns over impending factors such as information accessibility, lack of fund, capacity gaps and restrictive policies hampering investigative journalism, policy and public awareness on maternal and child health, encouraging full capacity deployment and utilization of Media and Public Relations Department of various Ministries to encourage timely and appropriate information dissemination.

The State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, represented by Mr. Muhammad Kabir Barau revealed that in 2017 Appropriation Act, the State Government has allocated 8.97% to the health sector, which is an increase from the previous years.

He observed under-performance in part of the established Budget Monitoring and Tracking Committee as an impeding challenge to budget performance monitoring and evaluation in the state.

“Katsina State has received its share of the World Bank’s “Save 1 million Lives” fund and established implementation Committee with maternal and child as a key priority for intervention,” Barau added.

Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON) represented by Dr. Sabiu Laidi explained that evidence-based advocacy by civil society groups in the state would assist them to understand, identify relevant facts and figures to effectively advocate and engage policy and legislative process on maternal and child health.

He further advised the media on well-packaged and persistent maternal health programmes by through persistent and innovative coverage and reportage that captivate policy, legislative and public attention towards maternal and child health.

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