AMURT STARTS WORK IN NIGERIA
AMURT started in Nigeria late in 2010. Nigeria has the largest population of all African countries. The indicators for maternal and child mortality are among the highest in the world. The need being so great, it was imperative that AMURT start operations in Nigeria.
EBONYI STATE – THE BATTLE AGAINST MATERNAL MORTALITY
Ebonyi state was created from the neglected areas of Enugu and Abia state in 1996 and is the poorest state in the south of Nigeria. According to the state web-site, for every 100 live births, one Ebonyi woman dies of peri-natal causes, thus giving Ebonyi one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. The state health department is overwhelmed and unable to provide operational health facilities to the population in rural areas.
LOCAL WOMEN TAKEN INITIATIVE TO OPEN HEALTH CENTERS
AMURT was invited to join a primary healthcare initiative in Ekumenyi Development Center, Abakaliki Local Government, where the communities were close to completing construction of three new health centers. ActionAid Nigeria provided the construction materials, and mobilized the communities, who in turn paid the artisans.
AMURT committed to provide furniture, medical equipment, supplies and drugs and the construction of bathrooms and latrines. Initiated many years ago, the local women’s association members levied themselves 10 naira each to start the work on the foundation of what would become the health centers. From the beginning, the vision was one of community management and ownership, thus fitting well into AMURT’s strategy in community development and primary healthcare.
In July 2010, along with our partners, we started intensive advocacy to pressurize the government to assume responsibility. We had a difficult start, but as soon as we got the local head of the health department on board, things started moving fast. Finally the local government agreed to post health workers to the facilities and the state health department also soon gave support to the project.
THREE COMMUNITY OWNED HEALTH CENTERS OPEN THEIR DOORS
24th of November saw a grand ‘public presentation’ of three new health centers. Her Excellency, the First Lady of Ebonyi State, Mrs. Josephine Elechi, presided and a large contingent of government officials were present. Omege Health Center had already opened on 21st September. Ephenium and Offia Oji Health Centers opened on the day of the presentation. The program was well covered in the local and national media.
The population has been patronizing the health centers, as evidenced by women coming for delivery at the clinics, the big attendance at ante-natal day, and the number of adults taking advantage of the outpatient and inpatient services, including surgery days with visiting doctors from the Federal Medical Center. AMURT’s first responsibility is to give support to ensure a high standard in the new health centers. We are modeling our approach after WHO’s ‘Continuum of Care’ packages: starting from family planning before pregnancy, pregnancy care, delivery care, post-natal care, infant care and childhood care. The activities include supplementary training for the health workers, health education in the thirty-four villages in the project area and outreach programs.
THREE YEAR PROGRAM FOR PRIMARY HEALTH
We have committed to a three year program for Ebonyi State. Our first task is to define and establish a model in the first three health centers. Secondly we plan to scale up and replicate the model in ten more health rural health centers in Ebonyi State before the end of 2013. AMURT will also extend assistance to rural water supply and sanitation initiatives.
PARTNERSHIP FOR PROGRESS – THE WAY FORWARD
It has been wonderful to learn firsthand the potential that working in partnership offers for community development. For the first time in West Africa we are working closely with government and NGO partners, in addition to the community base we are so used to from Ghana and Burkina Faso. To assist and help build the capacity of the local authorities makes sense in a development context. The problems are so great that no NGO can carry this task alone. Working in a tri-partial partnership instills a new kind of humility that creates the right framework and mindset for successful projects. The work on the projects always comes first, as any ambition towards credit, control or ownership is held back by the common desire to serve and get the job done. It’s overwhelmingly clear that through partnership we can accomplish things that we could never achieve working separately.
To donate for AMURT’s Maternal and Child Health program in Nigeria, click here.
CONTACT AMURT NIGERIA: Tel: +234-81-3306-7130 E-mail: nigeria AT amurt.net