At a glance: Nigeria

Mothers in Nigeria participate in biannual event for maternal and child health

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Maternal Newborn Child Health Week is a biannual event. The Week aims to deliver a package of basic interventions that are highly effective in reducing child mortality and improving mother and child health.

By Roar Bakke Sørensen

Mothers in Nigeria are keen to participate in a week’s worth of activities that complement routine health services with a package of interventions proven to boost their own health and help their babies survive and thrive.

ABUJA, Nigeria, 20 December 2013 – Josephine Oga is pregnant with her second child. Today, she has come to Otukpo, in Benue State, to attend Maternal Newborn and Child Health Week. She’s collecting medicine, as well as nets that have been treated with insecticide.

[The nets] are important for my baby and me because of the mosquitoes,” she says.

I have learned so many things here today about how a mother should take of her baby – and how a pregnant woman should protect herself from disease,” she adds.

A week of care for mother and baby

Maternal Newborn Child Health Week is a biannual event. The Week aims to deliver a package of basic interventions that are highly effective in reducing child mortality and improving mother and child health.

The Week’s interventions complement routine health services by ensuring that basic care reaches all mothers and children. The services and supplies provided, among others, are vitamin A supplements, routine immunizations, deworming tablets, screening for malnutrition – and the long-lasting insecticide-treated nets that Ms. Oga has come to collect for her family.

Vitamin A is important for the growth of human cells. This year, Maternal Newborn Child Health Week targeted 19.2 million children with vitamin A supplements, provided by UNICEF.

By the time the first round had been completed, 19,224,391 million children had been given the supplements.

Mothers take charge

The Week features antenatal care for expectant mothers like Ms. Oga. The event also provides information on the importance of such key practices as exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding, family planning and hygiene, among other activities.

Mothers like Ms. Oga and Messi Anegi praise the programme – its information, activities, care and health supplies. This year, Ms. Anegi attended with her 3-year-old daughter and newborn son.

When I gave birth to my first child,” she recalls, “we came around for immunization – and, today, that child is very healthy…[T]hat is why I am here for immunization.”

Ms. Messi talks about how she has absorbed information she gathered from the Week’s awareness-raising activities into her own practices.

For example, she says, “Breastfeeding is very important. My first daughter is healthy because I breastfed her.

And I have learned more about breastfeeding – and they have been talking much about breastfeeding today, and I even read from books about breastfeeding. It makes babies strong and healthy,” she says.

Learn more about UNICEF’s activities in Nigeria.




 

 

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