Ondo State youths stand up for mothers and babies!

More youth efforts gathering voices and opinions to make maternal and newborn health a priority in the coming political dispensation.

Evidence for Action, through MamaYe! Nigeria embarked on a youth engagement campaign titled ‘Edutainment as a tool: improving maternal and newborn survival through actions by the youths.’

The campaign targeted youths in 4 tertiary institutions in Ondo State; namely: Adeyemi College of Education Ondo, All States College of Education Ero, Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo and Federal University of Technology, Akure, to raise public awareness about key factors behind maternal and newborn survival.

The campaign believes that it is high time youths started to understand and take part in policy decisions that affect their health and that of their families, contribute to policies and demand accountability from policy makers on political promises on health and wellbeing.

The event took place on the campuses of the schools, and the event featured public lectures on ‘The Role of Young People in Improving Maternal & Newborn Survival’ delivered by a selected lecturer in each of the schools, ‘debate’ by student representatives on ‘Maternal & Newborn Health: Whose Responsibility (the government or the people)?

Dance and Drama from the drama troupes of each school with various themes addressing challenges around maternal and newborn health and MamaYe! Nigeria’s film titled Blood, Bond and Politics was also shown.

At the end of the film show, students were asked to relate events in the film to a real-life scenario and describe what they would do if they were in the same situation. This allowed the students to share their understanding of the film, its content and its application to real-life situation, especially as it is about using evidence of what works to advocate on maternal and newborn health to political post holders.

The students were also requested to make commitments in any area of activism for maternal and newborn health in the areas of blood donation and encouraging others to donate, standing up for the plight of midwives, reaching out to policy makers and advocating for safe facilities, writing articles for traditional and social media, and telling others to play a role in ensuring the survival of mothers and newborns.

Most students committed to one or two areas of playing a role, and they all signed up for SMS, social media and email updates to keep up with information around maternal and newborn health development.

An essay competition was announced at the event for students to write to a political post aspirant in their area to prioritise improving maternal and newborn health if they win elections.

A total of 414 students were reached with 74 students from Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, 171 students from All States College of Education, Ero, 75 from Federal University of Technology Akure and 94 from Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo.

Some of the students who sent essay entries detailed their ideas on how to improve maternal and newborn health from the perspective of a community member under a political dispensation. Winners of the essay competition will be announced at the MamaYe Day celebration in Akure in the first quarter of 2015.

The National Blood Transfusion Service, Ibadan region, was invited to the event to attend to those who chose to play a role by donating blood to save the lives of pregnant women and newborns.

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