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Project set to reduce maternal, child deaths in Nigeria


NURSES AND MIDWIVES KEY TO REDUCING MATERNAL AND INFANT MORTALITY… a nurse attending to mother and child. PHOTO CREDIT: one_org_international

GAMSU, GE Healthcare train nurses at LUTH on mother, infant care
Several studies including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nation International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) have shown that critical strategy for reducing maternal and child morbidity and mortality is ensuring that every baby is delivered with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant which generally includes a medical doctor, nurse or midwife.

According to the WHO and UNICEF, every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five year olds and 145 women of childbearing age. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world.

However, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, earlier this year, described the high mortality rate of under-five in Nigeria as unacceptable, and said the country has made significant progress in reducing the rate of newborn deaths from 201/1000 live births to 128/1000 live births in 2013.

Several studies by the WHO and UNICEF in developing countries, including India, have demonstrated that that ending preventable child deaths can be achieved by improving access to skilled healthcare professionals during pregnancy and at time of birth, life saving interventions among others.

To address Nigeria’s very poor record regarding maternal and child health outcomes, the Federal Government had through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) established the Midwives Service Scheme (MSS), a public sector collaborative initiative, designed to mobilize midwives, including newly qualified, unemployed and retired midwives, for deployment to selected primary health care facilities in rural communities. The aim is to facilitate an increase in the coverage of Skilled Birth Attendance (SBA) to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality.

Also, in a bid to reduce maternal and infant mortality in in Nigeria, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) has emerged. The Gamaliel and Susan Onosode Foundation (GAMSU) has partnered with General Electric (GE) Healthcare to train no fewer than 45 nurses at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) on maternal and infant care.

To this end, the partnership saw nurses at the School of Nursing, LUTH, Idi Araba, Lagos, trained on capacity building as well as the use of state-of-the-art equipment to cater for pregnant women and newborn to reduce the burden of deaths in Nigeria.

Chief Operations Officer, GAMSU, Toyin Olanrewaju, said, as a not for profit organisation, particular about the well being of the Nigerian child, there was need for partnership with GE healthcare to prevent maternal and child deaths.

“We thought about the fact that a lot of mothers come into the hospital to have their babies, with some of them coming out with their babies in their arms while some don’t survive child birth. On an average, a lot of mothers die for reason that could be avoided both in the public and private hospitals, that alone will trigger anyone to sat something must be done.

“Out of 10 pregnant women who walk into the hospital, three come out with healthy babies, so we felt what was the need of improving a child’s education when we don’t help bring them out of the hospital alive, hence, the opportunity for us to partner with GE healthcare, which is worthwhile to train nurses in both the theoretical and practical aspect of getting into the hospital,” she said.

She said nurses play critical role in giving care to patients, which necessitated the need for their capacity building to have them get used to the latest technology, as most of the equipment used in the country’s tertiary health institutions are obsolete.

“The partnership allows these nurses see all of the equipment, work with them, and we hope it will impact them, the hospital, state and the Nigeria as at large,” Olanrewaju added.

On his part, the General Manager, GE Healthcare West Central Africa, Eyong Ebai, said that the organisation is focused on capacity building within the health sector, as the partnership would bring both institutions with similar goals to improve capacity building within the healthcare space in Nigeria.

He stressed that the major gaps in the country is clinical effectiveness and skills of workers in the healthcare system

“In improving the healthcare system, you do not only focus on improving technology, but also the workers with clinical skills, which is why we have picked 45 nurses to train and develop then or the course of mother and child care so that they would help cave lives,” he said.

Ebai added that GE healthcare has also partnered with Northern States Governor’s Forum, private investors and others state governments, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to focus on rural care, secondary care and specialist care to increase the education capacity of healthcare professionals.

He noted that the only way to measure improved outcome was to see changes in the indices, less complications during child birth among others factors, adding that the institutions have trained five nurses out of the 45 nurses as tutors to continue the re- training of other upcoming nurses.

“It is not all about training and walking away, we have to equip the nurses to be able to tutor other nurses, which is the important factor of this initiative,” he maintained.

Ebai further stated that GE healthcare is focused on ensuring that primary healthcare centres are improved on with technology and capacity education at every ward as it affects every Nigerian at the grass root.

Olanrewaju added: “On an average, you will find out that a lot of mothers die for reasons that could be avoided, both in the public and private hospitals. That alone, is enough to ginger anyone to say, ‘something needs to be done about it.’ What is the essence of putting so much effort in improving the education of a Nigerian child, when we are not even sure the Nigerian child would come out of the hospital in the first place? That is really the reason why this partnership is in place.

“Let us say we have an average 10 mothers walk into a general hospital which should actually serve its purpose and then just two or three of the mothers come out with healthy babies; what is the point? Having said that, we would want to believe that we would have 45 nurses in different parts of the country, doing something different from what their colleagues are doing now, we want to believe we would have made a positive difference. We are looking forward to having success stories from this particular training.”

Ebai added: “The main way you measure success is improved outcomes in healthcare. So for this particular program, we are focused specifically on maternal and infant care. We would expect to see some change in the indices, fewer complications in childbirth, and fewer children dying during childbirth and a reduction in maternal mortality. It is important that when you are running these kinds of initiatives, after the program is finished, that you monitor and measure from base line pre-training to going forward over the next two years, whether you can see a tangible change.

“If you look at some of the initiatives that we have run in Nigeria and the rest of the continent, you will clearly see that there is a change in outcomes for patients when you run these types of programmes. One thing that I have not mentioned is that of the 45 trained, five were tutors. So there is an element of training the trainer as well. It’s not just after the training, you walk away; we also equipped five of the nurses, so they will be able to tutor other nurses as they come through. That’s an important factor to ensure that you continue to see the benefits of a programme like this.”

“From a future point of view, GE is focused in a number of key areas. So we have our rural care; what we call a “Primary referral care program,” which entails looking at your primary healthcare facilities and ensuring that technology plus capacity and education is delivered at that point. This is extremely important because in the primary healthcare sector, it touches the most number of Nigerians.

“So essentially, every local government area and every ward have a primary healthcare facility, so we have a big focus on ensuring that the primary healthcare facility is improved, with technology, capacity and education. But if you look into the more complicated space, which is secondary care and specialty hospitals, GE are very much at the forefront and working with the private and public sectors in developing that specialist healthcare with a big focus in radiology, oncology and cardiology. In the oncology space, as a separate stand-alone entity, we have such a long way to go in Nigeria in oncology and you’ll see a lot of focus from GE specifically around oncology and learning what other nations have done in regards to developing a very strong oncology network. That is what we will be focusing on in the next year or so.”

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