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Urgent need to prioritise maternal and newborn health in the media

MamaYe continues to push for good representation of maternal and newborn health (MNH) reporting in the news. We focus on making MNH a political priority, and we work to ensure that everybody has a role to play to change the hope of Nigerian families from fatality to survival on pregnancy and childbirth.

One of the strategies that has worked for us is quarterly parley with journalists who are members of the State-led Accountability Mechanisms for Maternal and Newborn Health (SLAM) in the States where we work (The SLAM is made up of sub-committees on Evidence, Advocacy, and Knowledge Management and Communication. These committees produce evidence materials and advocacy briefs that are communicated to the government and the populace, to influence decisions on maternal and newborn health interventions).

MamaYe team and journalists at Globe FM, Bauchi

This quarter, we focused on journalists in Bauchi State. MamaYe has supported the training of some of the journalists in the State in investigative journalism for MNH, and this has led to improvement not only in how MNH is reported and portrayed in the media, but also the number of reports on MNH in the media.

We took the work a step further with courtesy calls on heads of the media houses in Bauchi State, whose journalists have been part of MamaYe’s work to improve MNH in Nigeria.

The major lesson learned was that many media organisations are ready and willing to partner with development organisations. However, they need capacity building to produce programmes and materials that are relevant to MNH cause.

MamaYe State Coordinator, Gideon Poki, answering questions from a journalist

The General Manager, Globe FM, Bauchi, Aminu Tahir Goggo, told us during our visit to his office that our work is important to them as it borders on saving the lives of pregnant women and newborns. He said his radio station has been part of numerous activities on MNH reporting to enlighten the public. He solicited technical support to produce evidence-based MNH programmes, as MamaYe prides herself with Nigeria-specific evidence materials to support action for MNH improvement.

Globe FM GM, Aminu Tahir Goggo

From 2015 to 2016, Globe FM contributed immensely to numerous media advocacies by the Bauchi State Accountability Mechanism for Maternal and Newborn Health (BaSAM). The contributions led to Bauchi State’s government allocating more than 15% of her annual budget to health in 2016, and in 2017 also. The former General Manager of the radio station, Dahir Garba Muhammad, allotted free airtime to accommodate members of BaSAM air their views and hold dialogues with members of the State’s budget appropriation committee on why the State must meet the Abuja Declaration on allocating 15% of its budget to the health sector. The public also had the opportunity to air their opinions on how more funding is necessary to improve health care delivery.

Former Globe FM GM, Dahir Garba Muhammad

Read how BaSAM influenced Bauchi State Government to propose and allocate more than 15% of her budget to health

Sanni Umar, Director, News, Bauchi State Television, told the MamaYe team of his willingness to specially assign producers to MNH news coverage. In a similar vein, Peter Oche, Acting General Manager, NTA, Bauchi, said that such partnership as presented by MamaYe is important to improve MNH. He pledged support for improved MNH news coverage.

The team at Bauchi State Television

MamaYe Media Advisor, Olaide Sokunbi, said that journalists have the duty to promote awareness on MNH. He said that MNH too requires similar prioritisation accorded political, sports and entertainment news, as the MNH cause is about saving lives.

MamaYe Media Advisor, Olaide Sokunbi (L) and GM, Bauchi Radio Corporation

MamaYe will consolidate the commitments of the media partners in the effort to making MNH a political priority, while encouraging everyone (not only the media) to take action that can improve maternal and newborn health in Nigeria.

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