Reducing maternal, child deaths in Nigeria
Nigeria on September 10 joined the rest of the world to mark the International Gynecological Health Day which is all about empowering people to lift the veil on gynaecological issues by celebrating the beauty of a woman.
According to United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), Nigeria , every single day, loses about 2,300 under – five 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.
Researches have shown that no country ever achieves sustainable transformation without achieving maternal health which is a major concern of all countries, especially in developing countries.
Indeed, researchers have identified maternal mortality as the single most important health issue facing obstetricians, gynaecologists, and Nigerians.
Most Nigerians, especially women who are poor, are very vulnerable to illness, disability and even death owing to lack of access to comprehensive health services, particularly reproductive health services. These women need good quality reproductive health services, such as medical care, planned family, family size, safe pregnancy, delivery care and treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections like Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Indeed, with the state of maternal health across Africa and indeed Nigeria, a lot is still required to keep up with saving the lives of mothers and their babies.
But the Director, MTN Foundation, Muhammadu Danlami, recently, told journalists: “It doesn’t have to remain this way and we all have a part to play in changing the story from negative to positive.”
Danlami who spoke at the commissioning of MTN Foundation’s Maternal Ward Support Project at the General Hospital, Lapai, Niger State on August 30, 2016 said the initiative is to help Nigerian women through access to world-class facilities whenever they have need for maternal care.
To that end, the Foundation’s Maternal Ward Support has renovated 24 maternal centres in the six beneficiary-states to complement the national objective of reducing maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria.
The maternal wards are already completed and commissioned in Oyo, Niger, Sokoto and Kaduna States while those in Cross Rivers and Abia states will be commissioned soon.
Niger state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, in his address at the commissioning thanked the foundation for the interest in supporting the drive towards reducing maternal and infant mortality rate in the state.
He said: “We are equally glad that you consider us in this first phase of your great service to humanity through this Social Corporate Responsibility (SCR). We are indeed pleased that four of our General Hospitals, one in Mokwa, Suleja, New Bussa and this one here in Lapai are all beneficiaries in this Maternal Ward Support Projects.”
Danlami in his welcome address at the event had said the Maternal Ward Support Project is the company’s contribution to the state government’s efforts to bring the good tidings of a safe delivery to mothers and children in Niger State.
According to Danlami, other states to benefit from the scheme are Abia, Cross River, Oyo, Kaduna and Sokoto. “For each of the 24 hospitals, their maternal wards will be equipped with the following: 20 hospital beds with cardiac rest, 20 standard hospital mattresses, 20 standard hospital bed pillows, 10 four-way foldable ward screens, 20 metal bedside cupboards, 20 visitors’ chairs, 10 drip stands, 20 hydraulic over-bed tables, 10 height – adjustable baby cots and 2 baby incubators”, he said.
He continued: “Today’s event underscores the importance of taking strategic, specific steps to address and reduce infant and maternal mortality in the country.
“It goes without saying, that woman of child – bearing age and infants are a significant but vulnerable percentage of our population today.
“MTN Foundation remains an investor in the betterment of lives for Nigerians not only through health but also through various education and economic empowerment projects.
“I use this platform to reiterate our dedication towards partnering with the government and other well – meaning individuals to contribute positively to the development of our societies.”
One of the beneficiaries at the Maternal Ward Support Project in Lapai, Niger State, Mrs. Chinwendu Omeke, a hairdresser, told journalists: “This place is very nice and I appreciate the government and MTN for taking care of the patients, everybody especially the pregnant women; I am very happy.”
Principal Medical Officer, Head of Hospital Services of General Hospital Lapai, Dr. Ezenwanka Solomon Chinedu, said: “My advice to pregnant women is that once they miss their period and confirm that they are pregnant, they should come and register for antenatal.
Early antenatal services will guide them on how best to manage their pregnancy to maximize the possibilities of a safe delivery.”
“We have increased our advocacy and engaged the smaller hospitals to ensure they quickly refer cases that are complicated to the general hospital rather than be more concerned about their revenue. When they refer patient who need further attention too late then the case becomes more complex. Fortunately, these advocacies have being yielding some good results and we have been able to properly guide those that come in bad state to ease and facilitate their recuperation…”