Making maternal and newborn health interventions sustainable

Sustainability is key to interventions that seek to make the lives of beneficiaries better. Read a great example of a self-sustaining MamaYe-Evidence4Action Nigeria maternal and newborn health intervention in Bauchi State that is now on autopilot!

One of the most important factors in social development is sustainability. This is part of the driving factors from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); emphasising the need for programmes and ideas that beneficiaries can sustain and maintain as they work to make their lives better.

The most frequently quoted definition of sustainable development has been from the Brundtland Report, which is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

As MamaYe-Evidence4Action clears the path for communities, individuals and institutions to participate in taking actions that will help improve maternal and newborn health, sustainability plays a key role.

At the end of July 2017, the Super Activists group in Azare, Katagum Local Government Area, Bauchi State, organised their maiden public lecture on the importance of antenatal care attendance for pregnant women, and the importance of voluntary blood donation. The event took place at the Federal Medical Centre auditorium, Azare, and it attracted traditional leaders, top health care workers, religious leaders and youth volunteers. For them, this was the icing on the cake of all their numerous awareness creation activities in which they promote taking action to improve the health of mothers and babies.

The group planned and achieved this event without any support from MamaYe-Evidence4Action. This is one of the numerous indications that the Super Activists initiative is self-sustaining, and will continue when MamaYe-Evidence4Action is no longer there.

The Chairman of the Azare Super Activists, Umar Farouk, said his motivation was the opportunity to sensitise his community on issues that will help reduce the rate of maternal and newborn mortality in his community. He said,

The capacity building that we received from MamaYe is another motivation to do this work. Without the capacity building, we would not have been able to do this on our own.

While planning the annual lecture, the group also coordinated and received donations of items such as a generator, 200 delivery kits and a carton of bleach. The generator was donated to Urban Maternity, Azare. The General Hospital Azare and Bulkachwa Primary Health Care Centre got 100 delivery kits each, while Gambaki Maternity Centre received the carton of bleach.

The activities of the group indicate community approach to providing and sustaining availability of supplies and equipment at health centres, with everyone taking a particular action, rather than waiting on the government to provide for all their needs.

Impressed by the achievement of the group, the royal father of the day, Seriki Ragwam of Azare, pledged more support for the Super Activists. And, he wasn’t going to support them all by himself; he promised to table their matter in front of the Katagum emirate council.

Royal Father of the dayIbrahim Jubril, the Manager of MTN Foundation in Azare, requested from the Super Activists, "a big idea, the Foundation is ready to support a big idea" to support maternal and newborn health in the local government. 

Another royal guest, Alhaji Engineer Mahmoud Abubakar, the Falaki of Katagum, encouraged the Super Activists to never give up on their activities to improve maternal and newborn health in their communities.

In the past, some of the activities of the Super Activists had resulted in individuals, health workers or group of students providing generators, delivery kits or other items to health centres in the Local Government Areas to help improve health care services and encourage pregnant women to patronise the health centres.

Below are some of the achievements of the group, as presented by the group’s vibrant secretary, Ahmad Sani Ahmad.

The group is not resting on its oars; it is going ahead to produce audiovisual versions of its radio jingle and drama. According to Umar Farouk, this is one of their next steps. 

The Azare Super Activists are not the only ones who have shown that the MamaYe initiative is a sustainable one. In Lagos, Saheed and Monsurat have demonstrated how they can sustain their contributions to the improvement of maternal and newborn health in their community. This is what Saheed recently did, and this is what Monsurat is doing.

Graphics and all photos by Morooph Babaranti (@morooph)

If this story has inspired you, what actions will you take to improve maternal and newborn health in your community? Nigeria needs more activists for pregnant women and newborns to reduce her maternal mortality ratio of 576/100,000 live births. What will you do?

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