Strengthening equity

I read an article the other day about how Nigeria is divided along two lines – the rich south and the poverty-stricken north.

The author’s main point was how data could help identify areas in Nigeria that needed assistance the most. To bring the point to life, the author compared lives of two mothers and their children; 18 year old Hausa mother from the northwest and 27 years old Yoruba lady from the southwest.

Hausa lady did not have access to antenatal care and had her child at home. Yoruba lady had 10 antenatal visits to the clinic and delivered her baby with the support of a midwife and important information such as the weight of the baby at birth was documented.

Both newborns were monitored, two years down the line baby from the north has stunted growth and was well  below WHO growth standard whereas baby from the south has grown as expected and was within WHO growth standard for her age.

Full article on Weforum here published in collaboration with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

I too believe that data is very important, however, it is also important to compare two likes rather than two extreme cases.

I wondered why the author did not take samples of children from the northwest or southwest,  I believe this would have been more helpful to Nigerians.

For example Senator Bala Na’Allah is from the northwest, he once said flying his private plane is a lot safer than taking the roads – he is unlikely to know about very poor children in his region. He has been in the government for more than a decade so would make a stronger case to see how the senator’s wives and the very poor in southwest go about antenatal care.

Also, the article talks about the ‘rich’ southwest lady. Today, one do not have to work too hard to see many women having their children without antenatal care in southwest either.

Actually, just around the same time that this study was concluded in 2013, a friend of my sister’s died during childbirth because she was not able to give birth naturally. It  was her third child so planned to have baby at home. Sadly, went through difficult labour, lost lots of blood, baby didn’t come out. Husband didn’t take her to hospital as afraid of the bill. She passed away, both mother and child.

In the same southwest, lost of our public officials have their children out of the country or if at home have adequate access to maternal healthcare.

151218-children-health-Nigeria-Impatient-OptimistsSometimes, it is better to compare apple to apple. Millions of southerners are equally poor and politicians as we all know haven’t invested where it matters for a long time.

Most helpful bits in the article is the information data – it speaks volume.

The article suggests important factors to measure equity: monitoring, evaluation, and action. This, I agree is important. However, I wonder if there is more than meets the eye in this case. Why do we have 93% of citizens in rural northwest compared to 64% for the rest of the country? This goes for all items highlighted on the info data. Is this because this area have been neglected for so long or the fact that allocations given to the area were diverted to fund pilgrimages and extravagant lifestyle for the few elites while the rest were made to believe they will have better life in afterlife?

The poor southerners are not any better if we were to look beyond the gloss of the city.

While the whole of Nigeria can be a basket case, it is important to pay attention to lifestyle choice that kept some folks down.