Tackling menace of maternal mortality
Maternal and child mortality are twin evil that has bedevilled the country and by extension the Africa continent from time immemorial. Surprisingly, no meaningful success as expected has been achieved in the fight to stop the rate at which women and infant die from probable preventable causes.
Despite the effort of past administration to reduce the trend, it is sad that Nigeria still ranks second place as having the highest maternal and child mortality in the world after India, according to a report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The body also indicates that most of the victims of maternal deaths are women between the reproductive ages of 15 and 45, adding that 52,000 of these vulnerable women die in Nigeria every year.
Heart rending stories are told everyday by families who lost loved ones during the process of childbirth, a general trend which ought not to be so considering the fast growing technology in today’s modern world with rising hope to address several challenges especially in the health institution.
In most cases, these women who are said to have died from pregnancy-related or childbirth complicated issues could have been saved but due to the inefficiency of health institution at their disposal or their inability to access health facility because of distance during labour and lack of qualified medical personnel to handle the delivery of their babies.
In essence, many of these lives would have been saved if minor matters as such are treated with the urgency it deserves through the political will of relevant government agencies to build, equip and locate health facilities at the reach of the people, especially at an affordable rate for the poor rural dwellers.
It is this concern among many others such as polio eradication and HIV/AIDS intervention which is also contained in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four and five that propelled the Public Health Care Agency to brainstorm on the way forward recently in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
The meeting reviewed a more effective approach that would strengthen the public health care system in the country towards the reduction of maternal morbidity and other related preventable deaths.
Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Mohammad emphasized that the new strategy was targeted at achieving a sustainable policy plan capable of ensuring the safety of women at childbirth.
He lamented during the strategic planning retreat that over the years the implementation of the fantastic plans as enshrined in the agency’s document have been impossible mainly because they were not as practical as they were more political.
Therefore, he stressed the need to develop the new implementable plan that would naturally fit into the agency’s agenda, that of it’s partners’ and other stakeholders’ effort towards the rapid reduction of infant and maternal morbidity, polio eradication, a scale up of HIV/ AIDS intervention among others.
Mohammed added that the strategies considered at the meeting would boost the robust monitoring and evaluation systems to incorporate healthy accountability measures in alignment with the proposed public health care data bank.
The Director of Planning, Research and Statistics in the agency, Dr. Emmanuel Oduh said the four-year planning document has modalities outlined to satisfy the statutory function of delivery for making all Nigerians healthy.
Oduh assured that in the next three years, maternal morbidity would have been reduced drastically if not totally eradicated following the agency’s renewed resolve to tackle the issue headlong at its source.
This would be so as the availability and accuracy of data sources which influence the study of causes and correlates would be adequately collected.
In the past, only data from hospitals or health institutions are obtained from a selective fraction of total deaths against a large proportion of deliveries that take place at home especially in the rural environs.
The problem of measuring maternal mortality which perhaps had remained one of the difficult issues in maternal health, and yet an accurate picture of the scope of the challenge necessary to implement approaches to improve maternal health care was considered to develop the public health institution
More so, that the MDGs number four and five are targeted at reducing global maternal mortality by 2015 and Nigeria has not yet made noteable progress towards achieving the goal.
At the end of the meeting which climaxed with the flagging off of this year’s polio immunization at Ugba in Logo local government area of Benue state, participants agreed that the primary health care facilities in the country need to be sufficiently equipped and that government should increase funding of the health sector in order to decrease maternal and infant mortality.
The workshop also recommended that the National Assembly should consider the legislation of the Health bill before it as that would go a long way to reduce not only maternal mortality but curb the excesses militating against the health sector.
Meanwhile, the NPHCDA boss expressed satisfaction with the public health system on ground in Benue state after going round some locations to see things for himself.
He assured that the federal government would continue to improve on the health sector through the SURE-P midwives support initiative to cater for maternal and child health at the grass root.
He added that, the agency is positioned to build capacity of health workers and to compliment the availability of drugs for patients who visit the health facilities.
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