The United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) has given the thumbs up to the Ogun State Government, for its efforts towards ensuring child survival in the State, particularly in the area of dissemination of key messages on essential family practices.
The Chief, UNICEF Akure Field Office, Nigeria, Dr. Tushar Rane, gave this commendation, during a meeting with Commissioners for Information, Permanent Secretaries of Ministries of Information, and media stakeholders from Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun and Ondo States on ‘Facts for Life’ (FFL) programme, saying the meeting is an effort to take stock of strides made so far and chart a new course for sustainability.
Dr. Rane said the collaboration between Ogun State Ministry of Information and UNICEF is yielding positive impact on the lives of residents, noting that more people are gaining access to key messages that promote issues like handwashing, exclusive breastfeeding, proper personal hygiene and sanitation.
He expressed delight that numerous radio stations have bought into the free broadcast of the UNICEF ‘Facts for Life’ radio programme, adding that it was created to disseminate vital information meant to increase every child’s chances of survival.
“Although UNICEF has provided the necessary technical support to facilitate the production of FFL radio programmes, the Ministries of Information in the States under our zone and FM radio stations have taken up this initiative and ensured that the episodes of the programmes are being aired free of charge. I want to say here that many global experts have described this initiative as excellent for Social and Behavioral Change Communication (SBCC). I appreciate all our partners for this success story”, he said.
The UNICEF Chief who emphasised that the fight against infant and maternal mortality in Nigeria could only be won through collaborative efforts, said the organisation would continue to build on the good relationship with the Ministries of Information under the Akure Field Office.
In his response, the Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Alhaji Waheed Odusile advised UNICEF to expand its scope to accommodate mental health for women at the grassroot, adding that the overall health of mothers is crucial to the survival and growth of families.
“Let me also align with the need for capacity building of stakeholders in the media. UNICEF can think of a way to contribute to the training of staff of their media partners, in order to ensure the right messages are disseminated. This will engender a better disposition of media practitioners to your programmes”, he said.
The Commissioner lamented that the traditional media may no longer be effective for reaching out to teenagers, particularly female ones, who have shown a preference for online and social media, adding that they would turn out to be mothers in the future.