There are indications that the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III, may lead the campaign against maternal and child deaths during and after pregnancy.
The Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewole, prevailed on the sultan to take up this task when he led a team of state commissioners of health on a courtesy call at the sultan’s palace in Sokoto State during the 58th council meeting on health.
Making the plea, the minister, who is also the Chairman of the National Health Council, said “one thing clear to us is that your intervention in every health matter would produce dividends, we want to use your name, office and personality to drive our efforts to reduce maternal and new born death in Nigeria as you did on polio.
“What we want is a situation where our women would survive when they carry babies in their wombs and also that the children they deliver survive, no woman should die just because she wants to give birth and we believe that your words and leadership would help to convince people that a pregnant woman needs care in the hospital.
“This is our humble request and we are sure that when you agree to take up this leadership we would be able to reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria which is close to what we have in war torn countries like Afghanistan, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. We do not deserve to be in this category, this is our humble request and we believe that you would grant it, we believe that through you we would make a huge difference in this effort,” he added.
In his response, the sultan called on leaders to provide affordable healthcare services to the people. “We want to have hospitals where I will be treated and discharged free, we want a clinic where a pregnant woman would go and when she comes out she is much better than when she went in.
“ I have accepted the request of the minister, it is our responsibility to work for our people whatever we can do we must do it right, always reach out to us on any programme you believe that traditional institutions would play a role, we are willing to do so.
“Men must allow their wives to go to the hospital if they really want their them to be what they are, unless you are tired with your wife and even if you are there are better ways to send her away, don’t kill your wife by refusing to allow her go to the hospital when she is pregnant,“ he warned.
He promised to make maternal and child health part of their agenda during the next Northern Traditional Council Committee on Primary Healthcare meeting.
“We would put it in the agenda how to embark on sensitisation across villages on allowing our wives, sisters, mothers to go the hospitals when they are pregnant. We did it on polio and we succeeded, we are going to place it on our board.”
He urged government at all levels to provide free antenatal care to attract pregnant women to the hospital.