To mark World Down Syndrome Day 2016, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa is focusing this week’s #MaternalMonday campaign on women empowerment for improvement of maternal health and wellbeing.
Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. While there are no known behaviour or environmental risk factors leading to Down syndrome, the advanced age of parents significantly influences the occurrence of Down syndrome. It can be diagnosed during prenatal screening alongside other birth defects.
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa continues to work towards creating an environment for women where women can make decisions of their own, while improving their social, economic, political and legal strength. Unfortunately, women have been found to bear the highest burden of preventable diseases and deaths in many societies and this can be attributed to several causes, including the absence of women empowerment initiatives and laws.
Information, health and socio-economic empowerment among women, helps to mitigate the risk for Down syndrome and also encourages an inclusive environment for children diagnosed with the disorder. This year’s World Down Syndrome Day is targeted towards creating discrimination-free environments for families where children are diagnosed with Down syndrome.
The empowerment of women provides the opportunity for improved health status, as empowered women are able to make wise, health-related decisions for their children. Thus, they are less likely to be discriminated or excluded from the society. #MaternalMonday focuses on empowering women, especially at the community level, with essential information which helps in prevention of birth defects especially parental age-related ones like Down syndrome.
#MaternalMonday, the popular weekly information campaign established by Her Excellency Toyin Saraki's Wellbeing Foundation Africa seeks to empower midwives, mothers and their newborns through demand creation for birth-preparedness, reducing the scourge of preventable maternal, newborn and child mortality. Mrs Saraki, the Newborn Champion for Save The Children Nigeria, also serves as Global Goodwill Ambassador to the International Confederation of Midwives.