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Advocating for Effective Use of Maternal and Child Health Resources in Kano State

Statement by the Executive Director of Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED), Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi at the Inaugural Press Briefing of the Project of Promotion of Democratic Participation – Phase 4: Strengthening Maternal Health And Child Care Through Accountability Interventions in Kano State at the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Studies, Mambayya House, Gwamaja, Kano, on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. 

Distinguished guests, Media and CSO friends, ladies and gentlemen.

It is indeed heartwarming to welcome you all to this inaugural press briefing and launch of the new phase of our project of Promotion of Democratic Participation in Kano State – Phase 4, with specific focus on the thematic issue of maternal and child health. You will recall that on 12th April 2021, at this same venue, we addressed a press conference to close out the third phase of our project titled Social Mobilisation for Transparency and Accountability in Maternal Health Resource Budgets in Kano State. That innovative data driven intervention provided CHRICED, project stakeholders and community activists in Kano State, especially in Gwale and Kumbotso, the opportunity to advocate for transparent and accountable use of maternal health resources.

With that phase completed and closed out, we are indeed very excited to announce to you that the fourth phase of the project titled; Strengthening Maternal Health And Child Care Through Accountability Interventions in Kano State has now been approved by our distinguished partners, Misereor/KZE of Germany. Like it was with previous phases, the overall goal of this new intervention is to reduce maternal and child mortality in two target local government areas by improving inclusion, transparency and accountability in planning and management of health budgets and programmes in Kano state. The people at the grassroots remain central to the realisation of the goals of this project. In the implementation of the project, CHRICED will work in concert with communities and key policymakers, agencies in the state ministry of health and their counterparts in the two local government areas of Gwale and Kumbotso. Through such instruments as voluntary service charters and the monitoring of the implementation of extant laws, CHRICED in concert with the communities will keep track of key health outcomes as they affect the project target groups.

Importantly, CHRICED in this phase will have synergies with health professionals, community associations and community leaders (as critical gatekeepers) to generate a model for improving health interventions that can be adopted by the state government and replicated across the state. CHRICED hopes to achieve key project milestones by reducing the risk of maternal and child mortality in project communities. Therefore, this project through its outcomes, objectives and goals would engaged the governance process to bring about behavioural changes across the demand and supply side of the maternal health accountability chain. Apart from the awareness it will give to citizens about their rights and responsibilities, the project will push for best practices, transparent approaches and the adoption of open government models to deepen transparency and accountability in the utilization of maternal health resources.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is very important to note that while CHRICED will be engaging with a broad spectrum of stakeholders on this project, the major beneficiaries of the intervention are the low-income women in the project communities. Low-income women comprise the core element of this project’s target group, because they are the principal victims of maternal death. The vulnerable women, which form the focus of this group live in rural and suburban communities, and they face stark realities occasioned by very poor human development indices. These women are marginalized in terms of the distribution of key social goods and services in their communities.

Although the problem of maternal mortality cuts across income divides, it is nevertheless predominantly a problem of low-income groups since women belonging to high-income groups are better able to access maternal healthcare information and higher-quality maternal care services. Further, this category of women face a high unemployment rate, with its corresponding effect on their abilities to make economic, and by extension, crucial health decisions. This population will be sensitized and mobilized to increase pressure on the governance system for reforms to improve maternal health service provision. It is equally pertinent to note that the deprivation faced by this disadvantaged group of citizens has been further accentuated by the harsh realities precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The effect of the pandemic has taken a devastating toll on access to healthcare, just as it has put enormous economic pressures on the lives of already disadvantaged groups. In line with the objective of working for transparent, fair and accountable use of resources for healthcare, CHRICED will work to generate data on the COVID-19 vaccination process for the purpose of advocacy.

Consequently, the realities faced by the disadvantaged and marginalized groups make it even more critical for all stakeholders to work for the efficiency and effectiveness of government spending on maternal, newborn and child healthcare in Kano State. Collectively, we must work to reform and reposition the health system so that it becomes responsive to the needs of the weak and the vulnerable in society. Subsequently, it is important to equally state that CHRICED will adopt the rights-based approach for the implementation of this project. For us therefore, it is our ethical position that all people are entitled to a certain standard of material and spiritual well-being. 

Implementing this project using the rights-based approach means CHRICED affirms that citizens of our country are suffering injustices. We acknowledge the equal worth and dignity of these compatriots, and we will work to galvanise and inspire them to invoke their rights and take up their responsibilities as citizens. CHRICED recognises the excluded and marginalized populations as active rights-holders, and states and other actors as duty-bearers. This project is therefore anchored on that key element of accountability. As such, it shifts the focus to development by people, and not development for people. At the heart of this project therefore, the key principles of participation and empowerment are indispensable. This approach to ensuring the effective and efficient use of maternal health resources, finds constitutional backing in Section 14(1c) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which states: “the participation of the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”. 

At this point, let me express our deep thanks to our partners Bishöpfliches Hilfswerk MISEREOR, e.V (MISEREOR) and the Katholische Zentratstelle für Entwicklungshilfe e.V (KZE) of Germany, whose consistent support has enabled CHRICED to continue with the implementation of this innovative project. On behalf of the CHRICED Board of Directors, I want to also extend my warm felicitations and best wishes to our stakeholders, including community women, men and the youths, as we anticipate their vibrant participation in the project. Finally, I give my unreserved thanks to the entire staff of CHRICED, whose support has helped birth this new phase of the project

Thank you for listening.

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