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Group says maternal mortality reduced by 66 per cent in Cross River State

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Identifies South-South states as highest patronizers of TBA, says USAID
The United State Agency for International Development (USAID), yesterday identified states in the South-South Geopolitical region of Nigeria as having the highest number of births with the help of traditional birth attendants.

Also, another international agency operating in Nigeria with USAID funding – Pathfinder International, Nigeria, yesterday, disclosed that it has been able to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by 66 per cent with the last four years.

Speaking at a forum to present its findings on the state of maternal, newborn health and family planning following the implementation of Saving Mothers, Giving Life Initiative in Cross River State, the country director, Pathfinder International, Dr. Farouk Jega, also informed that early neonatal mortality has been reduced by 37 per cent.

Jega stated that the choice of Cross River State for the five-year project was influenced by the findings that the state has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality rate in the country.

According to him, the state has one of highest deliveries outside hospitals.

“This is a maternal and safe motherhood project that Pathfinder implemented with funding from USAID in Cross River State.

“The goal was to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in the state. We have reduced hospital based maternal mortality ratio by 66 per cent and early neonatal mortality rate by 37 per cent”, Jega stated

Noting that reducing prenatal and maternal deaths is achievable within a relatively short period of time, he called for political commitment by government at all levels.

On the patronage of traditional birth attendants, Jega stated: ‘This is one reasons the state was chosen. Most states from the South-South see the period between labour and delivery as very spiritual.

“That is the reason a lot of deliveries happen in the traditional birth attendants. But we have been able to raise awareness that while prayer is good, it is better to deliver in the hospitals and also have prayers.”

But Vathani Amirthanayagam of USAID did not totally condemn the use of traditional birth attendants. she rather added that they should act as community mobilisers and ensure that women give birth within hospital facilities.

“Their roles should be to help take women to the hospital for delivery and proper medical attention’, she held.

For the representative of the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Kayode Afolabi,
maternal and neonatal deaths are caused by conditions that can easily be prevented or treated.

“Most maternal deaths are related to the three delays which include delays in recognizing and deciding to seek care, delays in reaching the health facility and delays in receiving quality obstetric care.

“Government is therefore looking forward to the presentation of these findings at this meeting as this project was aligned with the ministry’ s maternal and newborn policies and programs.

“We are sure the results would help guide our policies and programs for strengthening and organizing Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care Services which is the bedrock of reducing preventable maternal and newborn mortality”, he stated.

Also, the Permanent Secretary, Cross River State Ministry of Health, Mr. Bassey Joseph, commended Pathfinder International for choosing the state.

He assured that the state government will continue with the programme at the expiration of the project.


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