The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency, NOA, Abia State, has urged men to support their wives to imbibe essential health practices to promote healthy living in their families.
The agency outlined such essential health practices as exclusive breastfeeding, immunization, hand washing, malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention, among others. Addressing community leaders from the six council areas of Abia South zone, on essential health practices, Abia State Director of NOA, Dr. Ngozi Uduma, said except men become involved in the issue of essential health practices particularly exclusive breasfeeding, the nation would continue to record low compliance rate in the area.
Exclusive breast feeding She said, “When a man stands to talk about exclusive breast feeding, immunization, hand washing and other health practices in the home, it means he has an understanding of the issues at stake and the benefits. When a man talks about exclusive breast feeding to women, it makes a great impact.
Except men become involved in the issue of these essential health practices in the home, we may not make progress. Exclusive breastfeeding and immunization is about the baby and the mother but you need the support of the father for it to work well. “When you talk of essential family practices, the target has always been children and women, but the wellbeing of women and children translate to healthy living in the family. I was glad to hear during the discussions that a man visited a women meeting to disseminate information on exclusive breast feeding. Men have a big great role to play in the realization of these essential health practices in the family.”
Uduma described the event as a review of the previous meeting of men, youth and women community leaders in the zone where information was disseminated to them on what they can do to encourage essential health practices in their areas. The community leaders were also required to step down the information on these essential health practices to their people and ensure that action plans were developed to improve areas of low compliance. “Last year, we gathered community leaders from 225 communities in Abia state; 75 communities from each of the 3 senatorial zones.
We decided to engage these men, women and youth leaders because they can influence people in their communities. They were expected to step down information to their communities to ensure that action plans that had been generated at the forum on essential family practices were implemented at the community level. “ We started by disseminating information to them on essential family practices such as prevention of malaria, HIV/AIDS, immunization, exclusive breastfeeding, hand washing, etc.
The idea was that if a community is low on environmental sanitation or immunization, the leaders will decide on an action plan to improve the situation. We have what each community was able to do since the first meeting.” Earlier, Emma Echewodo from Obingwa council had explained how he lectured women on exclusive breast feeding and initiated communal efforts to build a health centre in his community while Margaret Nwobilo of Ancient Ohazu community in Aba South council stated that she mobilized a cooperative society to raise funds for some residents to erect toilet facilities in their homes.