VOA’s Nigerian Town Hall Meeting

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, along with the wife of Nigeria’s vice-president and more than 3,000 others, took part in a Voice of America hosted town hall meeting Tuesday, aimed at finding ways to stop the preventable deaths of women and children.

The Nigerian vice president’s wife, Hajia Amina Mohammad Namadi Sambo, called maternal mortality “a global menace which is preventable and avoidable.”   She said she hoped what was discussed at the session would filter down to the “grass roots level.”

Maternal mortality figures in Nigeria and surrounding countries vary widely but experts agree they are unacceptably high.  According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), estimates for Nigeria suggest approximately 54,000 women and girls die each year due to pregnancy-related complications.

Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, where the town hall meeting was held, said he was impressed by the large number of women who “actively contributed to the program,” which centered on maternal and child mortality.

The Chairwoman of the House Committee on Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria’s National Assembly, Saudatu Sani, called the town hall an “excellent” opportunity for citizens, especially women to “participate in governance.”

In addition to dignitaries and area residents, the meeting brought together community, religious and traditional leaders as well as officials from the USAID Mission in Abuja, which provided funding for the event.

VOA’s Hausa Service has been airing programs focused on maternal health issues on both radio and the internet.  To listen to VOA Hausa programs on line, go to www.voanews.com/hausa/news.

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