Office of Mrs. Josephine Elechi, First Lady of Ebonyi State
Progress Report of Activities Carried Out by Her Execellency, Mrs. Josephine Elechi from 2007 to Date in Ebonyi State
On assumption of office as wife of the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief (Mrs.) Josephine Elechi articulated the Mother and Child Care Initiative (MCCI) as a vehicle for galvanizing the needed public and private partner sponsorship to address certain pertinent issues within the State for the benefit of Ebonyi women and children.
The thematic areas of the MCCI Program include:
- Reduction of the unacceptably high maternal/neonatal mortality;
- Reduction of maternal morbidities like obstetric fistula;
- Early detection of breast and cervical cancer;
- Girl-child education;
- Youth/Women empowerment;
- Orphan and vulnerable children (OVCs).
The overall goal is to promote the survival of Ebonyi women and children. Action commenced in August 2007 with the articulation of a conceptual document that formed the roadmap for the realization of the Program objectives. The work plan for 2008-2009 was synthesized out of this document.
Activities carried out from 2008 to date in the areas of promotion of maternal mortality, cancer and gender-based violence include:
♦ Advocacy visits, interactive forum and meetings to sensitize the different stakeholders and create awareness about MCCI and its projects, as well as galvanize their support. The target audience included the following:
- The Federal Ministry of Health
- Ebonyi State Executive Council Members
- Ebonyi State Legislators
- Chairmen of LGAs and Coordinators of Development Centers
- Corporate Organizations
- Financial Institutions
- The Media
- Various Ministries in the State
- The State Planning Commission
♦ A technical committee of three (3) persons from the ministries of Health, Education, Agriculture, Youth and Sports, Women Affairs and Social Development was inaugurated to collaborate between MCCI and their ministries so as to strengthen and increase inter-sectoral collaboration and partnership.
♦ To aid effective evaluation of the MCCI Program, a baseline survey was conducted to obtain data for subsequent evaluation of the Program. To ensure accuracy of data collected, a 2-day baseline survey workshop to train field workers was organized for staff of the health and education departments in the 13 LGAs and for staff of the line ministries. The MCCI monitoring team supervised and monitored the data collection. The data was processed, analyzed and sent to the line ministries to assist in their policy formulation.
♦ A 3-day Safe Motherhood Workshop was organized for all stakeholders including EXCO members, Legislators; the Judiciary, Local Government Chairmen, Development Center Coordinators and their spouses, traditional rulers, the clergy, traditional birth attendants (TBAs) and other care givers to create awareness and sensitize the public about the unacceptable maternal mortality and morbidities in the State, as well as proffer ways of reducing the scourge.
♦ The workshop which kick-started with a Safe Motherhood Walk at the State capital led by Her Excellency, accompanied by the Deputy Governor and his wife and other Ebonyi men and women, ran simultaneously in the State Capital and 13 LGAs of the State. There was also a pre-workshop symposium organized by MCCI with expert representatives from the Federal Ministries of Health and Education as well as UNICEF. Other key stakeholders in the State Ministries of Education and Health also participated. There were three interactive sessions after the workshop and the third session had the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health in attendance. The conceptual document of MCCI was further ventilated during the sessions as well as ways of strengthening the relevant ministries of Health and Education.
♦ To effectively facilitate the reduction of maternal mortality in the State, a Bill on Mother and Child Initiative and Related Matters capturing maternal mortality monitoring, was sponsored to the State House of Assembly by Her Excellency. The aim is to, among others, have a law in the State that will make maternal death reportable and stipulates 10 hours duration for referral of pregnant women laboring in peripheral center. The Bill was eventually passed into Law on May 21, 2008 and assented to by His Excellency, the Governor on June 5, 2008. Full implementation of the Law was stepped down to 2009 after adequate sensitization, awareness creation and inauguration of the maternal mortality monitoring committees at the State, LGA and Ward levels, as well as the implementation of the Free Maternal Healthcare Program of the State Government.
♦ A technical committee of the State Ministry of Health and MCCI undertook an evaluation of the state of healthcare facilities in the State to facilitate improvement in the delivery of healthcare services in the State.
♦ MCCI undertook advocacy visits to the 13 LGAs to sensitize and mobilize the public so as to enhance community participation in MCCI thematic areas.
♦ Having garnered the necessary support, the MCCI team set out to construct and equip a Vesico-Vaginal Fistula Center for the South-East zone to make Ebonyi a center of excellence in VVF management. This was done in collaboration with UNFPA.
♦ With the Center being put in place, the team set out to identify and prepare VVF patients for the first ever VVF mass repair campaign in Southern Nigeria. The campaign took off on November 17, 2008 in collaboration with UNFPA, followed by the official commissioning of the Center by the wife of the President and First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hajiya (Dr.) Turai Yar’Adua on December 5, 2008.
♦ In collaboration with Acquire Project Fistula Care, a training on infection prevention and control was organized for the staff of the Fistula Center to equip them with modern concepts of infection prevention and hospital waste management, as well as universal safety precautions that would protect the provider and clients from acquiring hospital infections.
♦ The 2009 program commenced with sensitization campaigns and awareness creation at the LGAs on the dangers of female genital cutting, teenage pregnancy, need for pregnant women to attend antenatal clinics and deliver in the hospital; girl-child education, constant self examination for early detection of breast cancer, and need for annual screening for premalignant lesions of the cervix. Also, a lot of sensitization is ongoing on the maternal mortality law. The sensitization and awareness creation is through MCCI jingles with electronic media and also by the MCCE team led by Her Excellency that has been visiting the various communities and LGAs. This sensitization has become necessary because of the effects of these issues on maternal health.
♦ We have commenced procurement of some of the cancer screening equipment preparatory to establishment of cancer screening centers in the three senatorial zones of the State.
♦ A 2-day stakeholders forum was organized and attended by MCCI, the Federal Ministry of Health, USAID/Acquire Fistula Project and UNFPA. The forum was organized to explore areas of assistance by the Federal Ministry of Health and linkages by the South-East Regional VVF Center with other partners to ensure the Program’s sustainability in terms of provision of free treatment for patients within the region and to ensure that the Center receives annual financial assistance.
♦ Her Excellency hosted a one-day Inaugural Forum of Wives of Governors of South-East and Benue States in collaboration with UNICEF to form an alliance for a shared vision on issues of women and children in the focal areas.
♦ Radio and TV jingles have been produced in English and local languages to enhance publicity on the issues.
♦ Other areas of concern and interest captured by MCCI include the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) comprising orphans, street children, hawkers, those working at the quarry sites and rice mill. The initiative includes identification of all OVCs in the State and the development of an instrument for conducting a needs assessment after the identification exercise.
♦ In this regard, we have had advocacy meeting with State Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Development, Health and Environment, Information, Justice, Youth and Sports, Agriculture and Education, as well as National Directorate of Employment (NDE), NAPEP, NDLEA, NOA, to solicit their collaboration and assistance for the OVC program of MCCI.
♦ We have equally carried out sensitization on HIV/AIDS and provided relief packages on a monthly basis for PLWHA to enable them feed well as they take their ARD and also access them.
♦ The Office of the Wife of the Governor, through the Free Mobile Clinic program is currently engaged in a State-wide free mobile health care exercise, where health care delivery is carried down to the communities in the various LGAs and Development Centers.
♦ During such exercises, deworming exercises are performed on school children to enhance their intelligence status.
Successes So Far Recorded
We have been able to:
► Galvanize the support of UNFPA, USAID/Acquire Fistula Care Project, UNICEF, Rentmeester Foundation of the Netherlands as well as individuals, which is why we have accomplished most of our set goals, viz:
- Strengthening the line ministries and increasing inter sectoral collaborations and partnerships.
- The baseline data collected have been analyzed and sent to the ministries.
- Ebonyians are well sensitized on the unacceptable level of maternal mortality and morbidities, e.g. VVF. As a result, MCCI have successfully organized nine (9) Fistula campaigns in collaboration with UNFPA and USAID/Acquire Fistula Care Project during which 375 VVF clients from various parts of Nigeria as of January 2010 have been successfully repaired and reintegrated with their families and into the society. The renowned VVF surgeon, Dr. Kees Waalkjik, had visited the Center with his team and undertook a mini repair campaign. The hitherto voiceless, reserved and reluctant VVF clients now boldly present themselves for examination and subsequent repair.
► The successful construction, equipment of the VVF Center and repairs of clients have attracted VVF clients from the states of Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Cross River, Benue and Bayelsa, and all are treated free of charge.
► The advocacy and sensitization exercises have galvanized community participation in MCCI thematic areas.
► The activities of MCCI have facilitated and strengthened the partnership between Ebonyi State Government and USAID, UNFPA and UNICEF.
► The Ebonyi State Mother and Child Initiative and Related Matters Law, 2008 comprising the Maternal Mortality Monitoring Law (MMML) has given the Initiative the legal backing to operate.
► As a result of our modest successes so far, Her Excellency was invited to present an address at the National Seminar on the Impact of Obstetric Fistula on National Development held on 11th March, 2008 at the State House, Abuja.
► UNFPA and UNICEF have included Ebonyi State in their country program which commenced in 2009. USAID/Acquire Fistula Care Project has equally extended their assistance in the areas of fistula repairs, prevention and capacity building. One of such repairs has been done, while the second is ongoing at the Fistula Center.
► UNICEF “A” Field Office, Enugu initiated a Forum of Wives of Governors of South East and Benue States hosted by Ebonyi State Governor’s wife to form an alliance of shared vision on the achievement of results for children and women in the focal areas.
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