By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Gusau
As part of efforts to make education, healthcare services delivery and awareness effective at the community level in Zamfara State to create more demand for better heath practices, traditional leaders in the state have proposed the formation of women forum, to be called “Women Royal Engagement Forum”.
This was part of resolutions reached at the just concluded Zamfara State Advocacy and Community Engagement Workshop, supported by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), held in Gusau.
The traditional leaders in a communique endorsed by all participants at workshop, observed that: “there is a need to create a women forum with the title “Women Royal Engagement Forum” to comprise the wives of the traditional leaders in the state.”
They also proposed that the women forum initiative can facilitate the engagement of women on increasing demands for basic social service delivery at all levels in Zamfara State (especially at the community).
Stakeholders at the meeting, after intense deliberations, agreed that there was need to intensify the engagement of communities in order to accelerate and increase positive healthy practices in Zamfara State.
They charged traditional leaders to increase and improve their roles as the custodians of child rights and protection in the state.
They equally called on the traditional rulers to intensify advocacy and enlightenment activities on child spacing in Zamfara State.
The workshop availed participants an opportunity to have better understanding of the roles of religious and traditional leaders, as well as the media in community engagement for the improvement of maternal and child health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation, hygiene and child protection.
During the deliberations, participants provided immediate context information which will be used to improve the five-year implementation action plan.
For the health workers, they want them to be consistently trained and supported with logistics for effective and sustainable service delivery.
They agreed that religious leaders should increase advocacy on adequate care of almajiris in state.
Though they agreed that access to sanitation in the state was improving, they want the traditional and religious leaders to push for the elimination of open defecation and improve environmental sanitation.
“Children and women are more vulnerable to diseases, lack of access to education, water and sanitation. Some of these challenges are due to taboos, misconceptions, superstitions etc.
“Islam and Christianity support good health practices, sanitation, education, nutrition and child protection as parental responsibility complemented by community and collective obligation.
“The integration of the traditional and religious institutions with the media will improve and increase the awareness level of communities in Zamfara State on health, education, nutrition, water, sanitation
“Traditional and religious leaders have strong influence in every community to help enhance the adoption of best health practices, and in ensuring that children are enrolled in schools, children are registered at birth, children are protected, women attend antenatal clinic, and that, high nutrition and sanitation practices become prevalent among the people,” they added.
The workshop was an opportunity for the state government to launch the Faith-for-Life handbooks (Islam and Christianity versions).