Capacity building in Minna Diocese, Nigeria
The twenty-one-person healthcare team includes seven nurse-midwives, three community health extension workers, a monitoring and evaluation officer, a coordinator of services for orphans and vulnerable children, a training coordinator, two drivers, two accountants, as well as other support staff.
Sister Gladys Dimaku is pictured here with the team, which she coordinated until she became Area Leader for MMM in West Africa. She tells us the work takes the teamÂ to many outposts in the six deaneries of the Diocese, the most distant deanery being a three-hour drive, close to Kaduna. This usually involves an overnight stay, providing services and health education on Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday.Â
The healthcare team works closely with the Justice and Peace Team of the Diocese, as well as with youth activities coordinators. Training for life skills and engaging youth groups in health and justice issues is seen as very important.
A key strategy is to network with other diocesan groups in getting across health education. This involves participation in events such as Cultural Training Days, organising parish health fairs and linking into the youth events.
All these are very social occasions where large gatherings of people can be expected. Music, dancing and good food are a feature of these events. The healthcare team plans their educational programme carefully and sets up stalls for checking blood pressure and doing other health checks, alongside talks on various aspects of healthcare.
Preventing transmission of HIV from mothers to infants is a big priority, as is training of traditional birth attendants.Â
The team also provides in-service training to priests of the diocese and lay leaders from different ministries.
They have put together modules for their local FM radio station on topics like infertility, HIV/AIDS, menopause, and gender issues including female genital mutilation.
Sister Gladys admits thatÂ a trained nurse can missÂ bedside nursing butÂ knows that for every patient she might help in a hospital, she can prevent illness for hundreds of people every time she climbs into her jeep for a journey to a remote station, or sits down with her team to plan the next outreach service.