By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
MRS. Toyin Saraki, Founder/President of Wellbeing Foundation Africa, wife of the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has continued to rise higher in the international community in her passionate commitment to sustain the pet project she started as First Lady in Kwara State about 12 years ago. Toyin Saraki has sustained the humanitarian project on mother and child healthcare beyond political bound unlike many other former governor’s wives in the country.
Accordingly, she was honoured with the prestigious Citizen Engagement award by Speak Up Africa on Thursday, 22 September, 2016, in recognition of her work in improving the lives of women, girls and newborns in Nigeria.
Mrs. Toyin Saraki, at the Inaugural Benefit in New York, USA, where she accepted the award, declared: “I am deeply appreciative and encouraged that the work that my organisation and I have undertaken in the past 12 years is internationally recognised. This is an award not just for me but for the millions of front line 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.”
Toyin Saraki was in attendance at the 71st United Nations General Assembly in recognition of the humanitarian activities of her Foundation towards attaining the global agenda on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the world leaders. She made remarkable impact during the regime of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which terminated in 2015.
Speak Up Africa is a women-led creative communications and advocacy organisation focusing on public health and education. Each year, Speak Up Africa honours African leaders who have made great strides in the UN Sustainable Goals. Other recipients of this year’s awards include former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete; Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Minister of Health and Social Action of Senegal; and Mr. Kabirou Mbodje, Chief Executive Officer of Wari.
The Founder/President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, has persevered in her commitment to improving maternal, child, newborn and adolescent health in Nigeria and globally. She continue to build crucial resilience to help communities cope with the challenges. Through the leadership of Toyin Saraki, the Foundation pioneered Nigeria’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, Toyin 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 organisations such as UNICEF committed to prioritising pneumonia efforts as a key path forward to reduce child mortality within Sustainable Development Goals targets. By increasing immunisation and other innovative interventions that minimize vulnerability, such as reducing household air pollution, increasing access to exclusive breast feeding, 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. Toyin 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.