From Opposers to Champions of Maternal and Neonatal Health
This project confronts the barriers to maternal and neo-natal health constructed and maintained by some community and religious leaders (CRLs) in six states of Nigeria. CRLs provide the ideology, messages and personal life examples which counter the myriad maternal and neonatal health interventions in this region. Previous interventions avoided resistant CRLs, engaging only liberal scholars in one-off events such as workshops. This has failed to bring down the barriers and the death rates persist. This project targets 180 of the most conservative CRLs in 3 states in zone with the highest rates. Using an innovative multi-stage leadership development model, we will train CRLs, support them to attend a study tour in Egypt, facilitate a process by which they use internet and GSM technologies to host community dialogues with Egyptian scholars participating via video link to reinforce correct messages, and convene step-down trainings for lower level CRLs. The project will compare successes in the experiment states with 3 control states with high rates and no intervention. By the end of the project we expect 90% reduction in negative and incorrect statements; 80% increase in positive and correct pronouncements; and 50% uptake in M&NNH services in the 3 experimental states. The development Research and Projects Centre making this application is an indigenous NGO implementing programs in maternal, neonatal and child health since 1995. The scientific basis for this project is our pilot project on Leadership development for traditional and religious leaders funded by USAID through a cooperative agreement with World Learning.