|UNICEF Representative Dr. Suomi Sakai (left) and Nigerian First Lady Hajia Turai Yar'Adua display a UNICEF-supported 'Mama Kit', which is being promoted as part of Nigeria's Integrated Maternal, Newborn and Child Health strategy.|
By Geoffrey Njoku
ABUJA, Nigeria, 4 December 2008 – Nigerian First Lady Hajia Turai Yar'Adua has pledged her commitment to maternal mortality reduction in Nigeria.
The First Lady met with UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative Dr. Suomi Sakai, saying that she will deploy her position to leverage resources for a drastic reduction in the appalling statistics of maternal deaths in Nigeria.
She made note of her strategy to support maternal mortality reduction in Nigeria through the introduction of the 'Mama Kit for Safe Motherhood' for safe delivery in hospitals across the country, as well as the positioning of safe delivery ambulances in remote, hard-to-reach areas.
In 2006, UNICEF and other partners supported the government of Nigeria to develop the Integrated Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (IMNCH) strategy to address the main causes of maternal, newborn and child mortality.
As part of the effort to access high-level political commitment, the Nigerian First Lady was invested as the Goodwill Ambassador for IMNCH in January this year.
Since the launch of the IMNCH, the First Lady has galvanized the wives of the governors of the 36 States of the country for the adoption of the strategy in the states. As a result, the roll out of the IMNCH strategy has started in 15 out of 23 states.
During the meeting with the First Lady, Dr. Sakai promised UNICEF's support in making the roll out a reality.
'Mama Kits for Safe Motherhood'
The 'Mama Kits' contain clean delivery supplies and other immediate needs of the mother and baby for safe delivery. The kits will be in the custody of 'Hospital Friends' – a community-based group of volunteers committed to reducing maternal mortality.
"We will entrust the kits in their custody and they will give them to women in labour who are too poor to buy the items and soon will start supplying caesarean packs too," said the First Lady.
Dr. Sakai also called on the First Lady to use her position to champion the cause of mobilizing other African First Ladies to work with UNICEF to ensure the best for African children.