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Raising awareness in Northern women will reduce negative child devt indices – UNICEF

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Mr Eki George, Communication for Development Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, says women, care-givers and communities need to change their negative attitudes in order to improve child care and development.

George made the remark in Kaduna on Tuesday at the opening of a three-day train the trainer workshop on Theatre for Development.

The training, organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Kaduna State Office with support from the UNICEF, was on using drama to raise awareness and promote uptake of health services.

The specialist noted that the northern part of the country has the highest malnutrition,stunting, non-compliance to polio vaccine, as well as lowest indices of girl-child enrolment in the country.

According to him, the problems are enormous but access to information by women and caregivers is key to addressing them.

“How do we get our women to attend antenatal care; how do we get communities to embrace hygiene and environmental sanitation; and how do we get caregivers to immunise their children.

“How do we educate people so they know that polio vaccine is not only important to the child but to the entire nation; and how do we get people to register their child for birth certificate.

“How do we get people to practice exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding; how do we get pregnant women to deliver their babies in the hospitals; and how do we get people to stop open defecation,” George queried.

He said that one way to educate the women was by using theatre to interact with them, entertain and enlighten them with the aim of getting them to change their behaviours.

He said that the theatre brings people together and help them to make informed decisions and choices in the interest of their families.

The specialist described Communication for Development (C4D) as a veritable tool of changing people’s attitude towards the well-being of their children.

He defined C4D as a social process based on dialogue, using broad range of tools and method, and seeking sustained and meaningful change at different levels.

According to George, C4D is about children and women’s right, survival, protection and participation with the hope of changing negative attitudes, advocating and sustaining new values and behaviours.

“C4D improves knowledge, attitude and practice of parents, households and communities on child care development and protection and increase demand for health products and services.

“It influences individuals; also, communities and institutions are being influenced for behaviour change through advocacy and social mobilisation.

“It influences people to make healthier decisions and create long-lasting positive impact on health and wellbeing of people.”

Earlier, Mr Newton Barabara, one of the facilitators, said the objective of the training was to improve participants’ knowledge on theatre for development, essential family practices, polio and polio vaccines.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 90 theatre groups will be created after the training, 30 each from Kaduna, Niger and Nasarawa States.

They are to mobilise and support communities to access healthcare services for healthy development of children.

UNICEF and NOA had already trained participants from Niger and Nasarawa States, who are expected to establish the theatre groups soon. (NAN)

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