Together for Healthy Families in Nigeria:  Rotary Action Group and Districts Forge a Successful Program of Scale

By Prof. Emmanuel Lufadeju (Past District Governor, District 9125) and John Townsend (District 7620)
Leaders of the Rotary Action Group for Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health (RMCH)

Routine child weighing for growth monitoring and promotion (GMP) exercise at Dei Dei Comprehensive Health Centre, Abuja, Nigeria. February 2022. This activity is part of a larger maternal and child health program led by the Rotary Action Group for Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health (RMCH) and Rotary District 1860 in Germany and Rotary District 9125 in Nigeria, in partnership with the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health. The goal is to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in the targeted areas in Nigeria by 25%, reaching 2.3 million people with key messages and services aimed at increasing the number of families participating in continued clinical care through formal health system services. The program is the recipient of the 2021-22 Rotary Foundation Programs of Scale grant.

The Rotary Action Group for Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health (RMCH RAG) has been working for more than 25 years in Nigeria on Rotary member-led projects addressing this problem, but partial solutions in limited settings were not enough. So RMCH RAG members in Nigeria and globally stood together to say enough to the 67,000 maternal deaths occurring annually in Nigeria through the Program of Scale.  In this program, we want to:

  • Improve awareness of and access to quality reproductive, maternal, and child health services in health facilities and the community;
  • Improve voluntary access to modern contraceptives to all women and their partners to delay, space, or limit pregnancies;
  • Sustainably strengthen national health systems by engaging all relevant stakeholders and partners in improving care in the public and private sectors;
  • Document the impact of scaling and replication of the program using data from the national information platform on Maternal, Perinatal, and Child Death Surveillance and Response (MPCDSR).

Why did we commit the Rotary Action Group for RMCH and districts together in support of one of the most challenging development issues in Nigeria? There are benefits to our joint effort:

  • The Rotary Action Group offers familiarity with large national programs in a range of country health systems as well as literature on best practices and approaches for achieving scale and sustainability.
  • The Rotary Action Group brings together global and national partnerships with policymakers, community leaders, health providers, and professional organizations to produce impacts at scale and sustain these efforts to virtually end preventable maternal and infant deaths in Nigeria.
  • The Rotary Action Group is committed to learning and adjusting program plans based on our experience with care at the facility and community levels, using data coming from the cases of mothers’ and infants’ deaths through the MPCDSR.

We know that to have an impact on women’s health nationally, we must think creatively and work big everywhere so that mothers and infants would not die alone without hope.

We have two calls to action on this International Women’s Month in 2023.

  • Join us in Together for Healthy Families in Nigeria to make it a model to show that women’s lives and those of their infants are indeed worth saving. Engage with us to produce bigger impacts, quicker, and on a larger scale throughout Nigeria and Africa.
  • Let us commit all Rotary Action Groups to work with districts and clubs to make Programs of Scale a central strategy for achieving healthy families and communities around the world.

For more information about our Program of Scale “Together for Healthy Families in Nigeria” and the Rotary Action Group for Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health, please contact us by email (Past District Governor Emmanuel Lufadeju and RMCH Chair John Townsend). You can review our progress on the RMCH RAG website.  Feel free to also contact RMCH RAG Germany Chapter.

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