Lagos and the decline of maternal and child mortality
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 20% of all global maternal deaths occur in Nigeria. Between 2005 and 2015, it is estimated that over 600,000 maternal deaths and no less than 900, 000 maternal near-miss cases occurred in the country.
In 2015, Nigeria’s estimated maternal mortality ratio was over 800 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, with approximately 58,000 maternal deaths during that year.
The 2008 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey indicates that 545 women die in every 100,000 live births and 157 children out of every thousand do not live to the age of five years in Nigeria.
Although the maternal and child health indices of Lagos State is slightly better than the national average, it is still unacceptable as the goal of every government is to ensure the sanctity and preservation of human lives.
In realisation of the need to sharply reduce the occurrence of maternal and child mortality, the Lagos State Government evolved the Integrated Maternal and Child Centers Policy.
As it is doing in many other aspects of the health sector, the Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu administration is setting a new pace towards reducing maternal and child mortality levels to zero in the state
Local and national statistics of maternal and child mortality and morbidity rate were of utmost concern to the state government, hence its resolve to tackle it head-on
One of the ways of doing this is via the establishment of Maternal Child Centers (MCCs). These are specialized healthcare centres for mothers and children aimed at taking maternal and child health care closer to the people by reducing the travel time and improving quality care to the highest possible standard.
The idea behind the construction of the MCCs was rooted in the conviction that these interventions would impact positively on the health indices of mothers and children who constitute a significant percentage of clients attended to at public health facilities.
In the last two years, the administration has completed and commissioned four MCCs. The Centres are equipped with the latest medical and other facilities to enhance access to quality health care for mothers and children.
The Centers are located in Eti-Osa, Igando, Badagry, and Epe. The commissioning of the four MCCs amply demonstrates the Sanwo-Olu administration’s resolve to enhance residents’ access to healthcare.
Each of the centers has five clinics for mothers, babies, and children, a neonatal unit for premature babies, labour ward with the delivery room, an emergency clinic, and a theatre for Cesarean sections in complicated deliveries among others.
The MCCs’ design was mooted as a Four (4) Storey edifice with between 100 to 160-bed complement. The building was fashioned with ramps at the main entrance into the floors and the fire/service stairway at the other end.
In addition, the building is flanked by 2 waiting sheds/holding areas to further accommodate the attending clients and their relatives. In order to complement the services being rendered, the gas station, public toilets, the power room, the engineering section, and the water tank stands were constructed proximal to the main building.
These facilities were uniquely designed to suit the pre-conceptual integrated services offered by the centres consisting of the reception, patient waiting section, the medical records section and the outpatient consulting rooms.
Others are the resuscitation room, the family planning clinic section, the call room, the laboratory, pharmacy, Ultrasound scan room, labor rooms, delivery rooms, theatre, recovery room, intensive care baby unit, treatment room, pre-natal ward, the post-natal ward, and nursery.
These centers apart, from being primarily equipped to reduce maternal and child mortality, also serve as training grounds for staff. Since the commissioning of the MCCs, available statistics have indicated a reduction in the incidence of maternal deaths, which often occur as a result of delivery by unskilled birth attendants, hemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour, and malaria among others.
No doubt, the state’s MCC strategy is already yielding positive results as evident in the key performance indicator. For instance, no fewer than 1,156 people accessed reproductive, maternal, and child health services within one month of operations after the 110-bed Eti-Osa MCC was commissioned.
Statistics of service utilization at the specialized facility for women and children within the first month of operation also showed that 162 pregnant women were booked for ante-natal care (ANC) services, 147 others accessed gynecology services while a total of 346 pediatrics patients were also attended to.
During this period also, 234 emergency cases were attended to, 75 people were placed on admission while 18 caesarian sessions and seven spontaneous vaginal deliveries were carried out. To date, over 31,000 persons have accessed diverse maternal or child care services at the Center.
At the 149-bed Alimosho MCC, Over 10,000 persons equally benefited from maternal and child care services within the first six months of operations. This represents 40% of the total number of hospital attendance in Alimosho General Hospital. This, in itself, is a significant indicator of the steady increase in the utilisation of health care services in Alimosho LGA and a great deal in attaining universal coverage for Lagos.
Evidently, the conceptualization and implementation of the MCC project as a key policy in addressing the issue of health infrastructure in reducing maternal and child mortality has recorded some gains in reversing the ugly trending of unacceptable maternal and child mortality.
Thus, the drive of the Sanwo-Olu administration towards sustaining the MCCs’ concept has enhanced access to maternal and child care services and ultimately improved the State’s health indices. It is hoped that the completion of more of these MCCs will further bridge the gap of delay in accessing health services, especially by rural dwellers.
It is the firm conviction of the government that women should not die in the course of the life procreation process. Hence, the government is not resting on its oars as it is ever poised to take the programme to lofty heights.
It is hoped that the residents would play their own part by taking full advantage of the government’s investment in maternal health care in order to effectively tackle the issue of maternal and child deaths in the state.
Ogunbiyi is Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.