Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Wife of the Senate President and the Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki was on Thursday September 23, at the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York, given the prestigious Citizen Engagement award by Speak Up Africa, for her work in improving the lives of women, girls and newborns in Nigeria.
Mrs. Saraki was at the Inaugural Benefit in New York to accept her award and said: “I am deeply appreciative and encouraged that the work that my organization and I have undertaken in past 12 years is internationally recognized. This is an award not just for me, but for the millions of frontline health workers around the world, most especially the midwives who I work with, who have dedicated their lives to helping women and newborns survive and thrive, they are the heart of the solution to transform health and wellbeing of women, children and communities, particularly in our goal to raise knowledge about preventing and treating childhood pneumonia.”
Speak Up Africa is a women led creative communications and advocacy organization focusing on public health and education. Each year, Speak Up Africa honours African leaders which have made great strides in the UN Sustainable Goals. This year, also receiving awards were former President of Tanzania, His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Minister of Health and Social Action of Senegal, and Mr Kabirou Mbodje, Chief Executive Officer of Wari.
Mrs. Saraki has persevered in her commitment to improving maternal, child, newborn and adolescent health in Nigeria and globally – to continue to build crucial resilience to help communities cope with challenges. Through the leadership of Mrs Saraki, the Foundation pioneeredNigeria’s first health visitor programme, MamaCare MomAndBaby Antenatal and Postnatal Educational Curriculum, reaching over 125,000 mothers and newborns, while it continues its innovative Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EMONC) skills and drills certificated training component to midwives across Nigeria.
In February 2016, Mrs. Saraki launched the Every Breath Counts childhood pneumonia Africa Campaign at the 16th General Assembly of the African Union, Addis Ababa, to raise awareness on the prevention, detection and proper treatment protocols of childhood pneumonia, the number one killer of children under five across Africa, while globally, nearly one million children are lost every year to this preventable disease.
The campaign achieved global prominence at the landmark Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen, in May 2016, as global organizations such as UNICEF committed to prioritizing pneumonia efforts as a key path forward to reduce child mortality within Sustainable Development Goals targets. By increasing immunization and other innovative interventions that minimize vulnerability, such as reducing household air pollution, increasing access to exclusive breastfeeding, clean water, and ensuring the availability of effective affordable treatments, including antibiotics like amoxicillin.
Mrs. Saraki has also championed the economic and social stability and independence of women and mothers and has distributed hundreds of working tools such as sewing and milling machines to expectant mothers, so that they can continue working from home and supporting their families while nursing and nurturing their newborns. Mrs Saraki is a global advocate for Every Woman Every Child Effort of the United Nations Secretary General and is the Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives.