Nigeria Health Watch has revealed that its just-concluded art gala, organized in collaboration with other organisations, was a means to create awareness about the importance of maternal health in the country.
The organisation’s managing director, Mrs. Vivianne Ihekweazu, revealed this during the second edition of the ‘Celebrating Womanhood Art Gala’ held in Abuja, as part of activities to commemorate the International Women’s Month.
The event, themed “Elevating Women’s Voices for Quality Maternal Healthcare,” acknowledged the need to prioritise women’s perspectives, insights, needs and experiences in decision-making, policy design and implementation.
Ihekweazu emphasised that no woman deserves to die while giving birth in the country and the art gala aimed to advocate for maternal health programs and services that prioritise women’s experiences and perspectives to improve the quality of maternal care.
According to Ihekweazu, art has been used to record history, shape culture, cultivate imagination and encourage individual and social transformation. The goal of the art gala was to amplify the voices and experiences of women, using art to raise awareness about the need for meaningful engagement, consultation and listening to women’s perspectives and experiences.
The wife of Kebbi State governor and founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation, Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu also spoke about the maternal health issues in the country. She highlighted the interventions from partners, the government and civil society that have helped improve maternal health indices in the state. She also mentioned that the state leveraged the existence of community development committees to influence decisions and social behaviour, making a significant difference in the maternal indices in Kebbi State.
The director of Nigeria programmes, MSD for Mother, Ms. Iyadunni Olubode emphasised that a woman’s perception of the care she receives is an integral part of her clinical experience and should be considered in improving the quality of care in the country. Women’s perspectives and experiences before, during and after childbirth provide critical insights into how to strengthen maternity care for all women in the country and should guide the development and implementation of equitable solutions.
The senior programmes and advocacy manager at Nigeria Health Watch, Ms. Onyedikachi Ewe stated that art can attract attention, evoke emotion, sustain interest and stimulate memorable responses.
Thus, she said, the organisation has decided to fuse arts in their advocacy to build knowledge and raise awareness of maternal health issues in the country. If progress is to be made towards achieving or contributing to the SDG target of reducing global maternal deaths to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, listening to women’s voices to understand their unique needs, perspectives and experiences must be prioritised.
The event began with a walk-through led by Dr. Ngozi Akande of the Female Artists Association of Nigeria, who guided the guests through curated artwork depicting the health challenges women face in the country.
The chair of the Health Sector Reform Coalition, Mrs. Chika Offor commended Nigeria Health Watch and its partners for highlighting the suffering of Nigerian mothers and called on the government to focus on reducing the high maternal and neo-natal mortality rate in the country.
In summary, Nigeria Health Watch and its partners are using art to advocate for maternal health care that prioritises women’s experiences and perspectives to improve the quality of maternal care in the country. The art gala aimed to raise awareness about the need for meaningful engagement, consultation, and listening to women’s perspectives and experiences. The event showcased curated artwork depicting the health challenges women face in the country and aimed to amplify the voices and experiences of women.