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South South women record highest out-of-hospital births, says USAID


Baby. Photo credit_ Newswatch

The United State Agency for International Development (USAID) yesterday disclosed that women in the South-South geopolitical zone of the country had the highest number of births through traditional means.

Also, Pathfinder International Nigeria, which operates with USAID, disclosed that it reduced maternal and newborn deaths by 66 per cent in the last four years.

Country Director, Pathfinder International, Dr. Farouk Jega, noted that early neonatal mortality has also been reduced by 37 per cent.   He stated this 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 Calabar, Cross River State.

Jega stated that the choice of Cross River State for the five-year project was influenced by findings that the state has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality rate in the country.   He the state has one of highest deliveries outside hospitals, adding: “This is a maternal and safe motherhood project that Pathfinder implemented with funding from USAID in Cross River.

“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.”

Noting that reducing prenatal and maternal deaths was achievable within a relatively short time, he advocated political commitment by government at all levels.

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

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

But Vathani Amirthanayagam of USAID partially supported the use of traditional birth attendants, adding that they should act as community mobilisers and ensure that women give birth in hospital facilities.

“They should help take women to hospitals for delivery and proper medical attention, she stressed. Speaking, representative of the Federal Ministry of Health, Kayode Afolabi, noted that maternal and neonatal deaths were caused by conditions that could easily be prevented or treated.

“Most maternal deaths are related to delays, which include delays in recognising and deciding to seek care, reaching 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 programmes,” he stated.  Responding, Permanent Secretary, Cross River State Ministry of Health, Mr. Bassey Joseph, commended Pathfinder International for choosing the state and assured that the state government would continue with the programme at its expiration.


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Farouk JegaUSAID
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