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12.05.2019 Feature Article

Bayelsa Safe Motherhood Scheme: A Vehicle for Protecting Women & Child’s Rights

The United Nations Millennium Declaration, now Sustainable Development Goals, SDG's pledged to improve maternal health and reduce the maternal mortality ratio by Seventy-five percent by the year Two thousand and fifteen. The Safe motherhood Initiative is a world health Organization push for reproductive and Children's rights.

The scheme is a series of initiatives and service delivery practices designed to ensure that women receive high-quality gynecological, family planning, prenatal, delivery and postpartum care, in order to achieve optimal health for the mother, fetus and infant during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. It is an Initiative designed for the health of parents’ and children.

In Bayelsa State, Dr. Rachael Dickson, the initiator of the programme has expressed her passion for the protection of Women and Children’s Rights. The launching was followed by the inauguration of a sensitization Campaign Committee in the Ministry of Information and orientation, Chaired by Chris Odi. So far, sensitization for the safe motherhood scheme has been far-reaching.

At the launching of the Initiative, on October 31st, 2018, the statement enjoined all pregnant women to register in government hospitals and health centres to attract a monthly stipend of Three thousand Naira as incentive to enable them attend ante-natal care.

The event, which attracted Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN), as Chairman and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as guest of honour, had as speakers the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor John Jonah, Rachael Dickson – wife of Bayelsa Governor Dickson and former Special Adviser to the Speaker of the Liberian Parliament Jophia Nanker Gupar.

Bayelsa State is pushing the Safe Motherhood Scheme to the rural areas because of the need to reverse the trend of high infant and maternal mortality in the State.

Unarguably, maternal and infant deaths are preventable through safe motherhood practices. More so, children and reproductive rights of women are part of the fundamental Right to life. This is why the programme aims to take steps to prevent maternal deaths. To do otherwise would amount to a violation of the right to life.

Under the safe motherhood initiative, there is the right to sexual and reproductive health rights, which subsume under human rights. This implies that all individuals should be able to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health and to have access to the means and services to enable them restore health.

By this right, women are entitled to receive timely and quality maternal care, including antenatal and postpartum care, assistance by a skilled birth attendant during delivery, and emergency obstetric care. Women are entitled to receive adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

Finally, it requires that HIV-positive women also receive adequate maternal health care, so that their health needs are taken into consideration along with prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

The Safe Motherhood Scheme in Bayelsa State confers on women the autonomy to access the means to maintain or restore maternal health, as inability to seek and obtain maternal health care due to an ineffective health care system, causes needless suffering and violates women's rights.

The Safe Motherhood also implies that failing to provide women with health care services constitutes discrimination against women. Thus legal, social and economic barriers to women's access to maternal healthcare constitutes discrimination against women.

Women have the right to receive and impart education and information relating to sexual and reproductive health without any discrimination. This implies that education and information are crucial in communities to raise awareness of safe motherhood as a matter of Justice and rights. Education and information can help families and communities provide women with the adequate nutrition they need during pregnancy and after child birth.

A critical strand of the initiative is family planning and Worker's rights. SMI seeks to enable individuals plan the number, timing and spacing of their children. This supports women's autonomy in deciding when and how often to become mothers without endangering their health. Truth is that Women are entitled to receive the special protection and care they need during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Women should not suffer discrimination in employment because of maternity, and they are entitled to payment during maternity leave.

The scheme also requires intense awareness campaign to remove the socio-economic barriers in our society.

The formal inauguration of the Safe Motherhood Initiative Scheme in Bayelsa State was a landmark event that should be embraced by all concerned with the well-being of the family. It is a programme that seeks to protect the lives of women and children and by extension, the future of society.

The office of Dr. Mrs. Rachael Dickson is pursuing the Safe Motherhood Scheme with vigour, and it is not out of place for individuals and the organized private sector to buy-in to the Scheme with a view to expanding it.

John Idumange
John Idumange, © 2019

This author has authored 43 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: JohnIdumange

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