Women’s Reproductive Health: A Case Study from Ekiti State, Nigeria

Published on African Women’s Development Fund AWDF, by AWDF, June 24, 2011.

Journey to Ekiti State, Nigeria:

8th June 2011. I am en route to Ekiti State for the very first time. As I board the Air Nigeria plane that will take me from Accra to Lagos for the first leg of my journey I am handed a copy of the National Mirror by one of the flight attendants. I scan the paper and my attention is caught by 2 headlines, “Conduct bureau urges public officers to publish assets”[i] and “EU to partner Ekiti on growth, development”[ii]. The first headline refers to the fact that the Governor and Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Mrs Funmi Olayinka are the first political holders in office to declare and publish their assets. The second headline gives details of a visit to Ekiti state by the EU Ambassador to Nigeria “in view of the governor’s focus on reforms in governance” … // 

… Reproductive Health Dialogue:

Hon Saudatu Sani shared that in her experience as a Member of Parliament from 2003-2011, and Chair of the MDG Committee, a lack of skilled workers in hospital was recognized as the key reason for poor reproductive health services. She challenged states like Ekiti to train more midwives by 2015 and stated, “Nigeria is at the driving seat where the MDGs are concerned.” Hon Saudatu Sani shared that a network of African parliamentarians have been mobilizing African governments to commit to the achievement of the MDGs and encouraged H.E. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi to speak to the wives of other Governors on the subject of reproductive health. She further commended Her Excellency on inspiring the creation of a Maternal Health Record Book for the women of Ekiti state which she cited as a practical example of an action to support women’s reproductive health.

Sarah Mukasa, Director of Programmes at AWDF invited the Deputy Governor to share how they had succeeded in obtaining the commitment of Ekiti state for women’s reproductive health.

In her response, the Deputy Governor, H.E. Funmi Olayinka stated,

“The first success story is a First Lady who has ‘know how’. The second success story is a Governor who respects women and is passionate about women’s rights as well as the committed staff at the Ministry of Health”.

H.E. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, President of AWDF/First Lady of Ekiti State and AWLN Member shared key lessons from the process of politicizing women’s reproductive health as follows,“Partnerships are of critical importance. If officials at the Ministry of Health were not supportive, we wouldn’t have been able to create the maternal health record book, which was inspired by the work of the Nana Yaa Memorial Trust in Ghana, an AWDF grantee. This is another example of collaboration.”

Dr Wole Olugboji, Commissioner for Health attributed the success of prioritizing reproductive health to political will. He further stated, “those who continue the act of FGM will face the full penalty of the law”. Dr Olugboji encouraged the people of Ekiti to take family planning seriously. In his words, “Ekiti is an agricultural state and farmers know that if you plant crops too closely to one another your output will be poor. The same applies to giving birth to children. A space of 2 years is recommended between child delivery.” He also spoke about the benefits of vasectomy as a family planning method and expressed his willingness to lead the men in Ekiti State by example in this regard.

H.E. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi commended the Commissioner for Health on his efforts and urged him to consider the example set by Edo state (a neighbour to Ekiti state), which has passed a ‘Reproductive Health Bill for Women’.  She described the bill as a good model for Ekiti state.

Community Responses to Reproductive Health Dialogue: … (full long text).

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