Vivianne Ihekweazu argued that a range of stakeholders at the federal, state, and local levels—including state health departments, educational institutions, and parents—have the responsibility of disseminating accurate, timely health-related information. Ihekweazu also highlighted the importance of consistent messaging.
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa works to support pregnant women and mothers across Nigeria. At the onset of COVID-19, explained Toyin Saraki, the Foundation used information from reliable, evidence-based sources, such as the WHO and the NCDC, to craft its own health guidance that was then disseminated digitally to women across the country. The Foundation regularly reviews and updates this guidance and, crucially, adapts the guidance to fit the contextual needs of local communities.
Alero Roberts offered an example of the need for contextualization: much of Lagos is extremely densely populated and, as such, instructing individuals to quarantine in separate rooms and use separate bathrooms fails to fit with contextual realities.
For Roberts, leaders in Lagos state have done a phenomenal job at responding to the pandemic. The executive governor has been successful at ensuring that the health information that is disseminated is timely and evidence-based.
“Once we had the right information and facts, our challenge became: how do we communicate this to people in lockdown. And we did what almost everybody else did—we turned to digital technology,” Toyin Ojora Saraki
Key takeaways & next steps:
Women have a pivotal role to play in disseminating health guidance.
In Nigeria, more women community health workers, midwives, and nurses are needed in local communities to inform local women of their pregnancy-related choices.