By Iliya Kure
Kaduna (Nigeria) — A meeting of stakeholders on childbirth spacing in Kaduna, northwest nigeria, has stressed the need for religious and traditional rulers to actively participate in the enlightenment of adherents on safe motherhood.
Contributors at the meeting called on religious and traditional rulers to encourage pregnant women to always go for antenatal clinics and ensure deliveries at health facilities.
Chairman of Initiative for Social Sector Advocacy (ISSA), Malam Shehu Usman Makarfi, who chaired the meeting said, “the emphasis on religious leaders is because of their influence on adherents of faiths.”
“We are concerned with the high rate of maternal deaths in northern nigeria; and since childbirth spacing has been proven a key strategy in addressing it, it is only wise for us to advocate for it”
“We are also advocating for government of Kaduna state to create a budget line on childbirth spacing to reduce the maternal death burden in the state.” He said.
A Christian Cleric, Reverend Ayuba Shekwolo and his Islamic counterpart, Imam Musa Tanimu said, childbirth spacing is not in conflict with the scriptures.
“We support the call for families to space birth for the health of the women.” Rev. Shekwolo said
“We have a God given responsibility of guiding the adherents on healthy living” according to Imam Tanimu.
A traditional ruler, District Head of Doka in Kaduna, Bala Tijjani, said as custodians of tradition, “this is not a strange practice. It is something families have been practising in the communities, that is why we are encouraging it.”
Khadijah Ibrahim-Nuhu of Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative NURHI, a Gates Foundation project said, NURHI is expanding its project to 15 Local Government Areas from the initial seven.
She said NURHI is promoting childbirth spacing, “a method that reduces maternal death burden by more than 35%.
“The NURHI project was well received by people in the state in its phase one, so we expect greater success in the second phase.”