Developmental agencies and other relevant stakeholders have unveiled practical solutions to improve maternal and child survival in Nigeria.
Several studies blame the high maternal deaths in Nigeria on horrific circumstances pregnant women face during labour, such as bleeding (haemorrhage), sepsis and eclampsia, aside other indirect factors.
Burdened by these clinical conditions, hundreds of innocent women die daily in Nigeria. Yet experts believe pregnancy should remain a nature’s gift and subject of joy and should not be seen as a death sentence.
Sadly, the position of the experts and stakeholders came amid ugly concerns of perennial systemic failure and manpower deficit in Nigeria, aside the ethno-cultural dimension bewildering several interventions meant to reduce the challenge.
Incidentally, the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) remains a source of disaster in Africa with more than two-thirds 69 per cent of maternal deaths occurring in the black continent, a World Health Organisation. (WHO) database indicated.
Nigeria has the third largest MMR in Africa with estimated 1,047 deaths per 100,000 live births, coming next to Chad with 1,063 deaths in 100,000 and South Sudan takes the lead margin with an alarming 1,223 deaths per 100,000 live births. This frightening data continues to soar despite the global decline in the MMR put at 34.2 per cent between year 2000 and 2020.
Sharing various interventional methodologies at the 57th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) 2023 held in Kano, the MSD for Mothers Partners briefed the audience on practical solutions to reduce maternal mortality.
The project also took the privilege of the SOGON’s side event organized by the Nigeria Health Watch with funding from MSD for Mothers to broaden stakeholders’ awareness about the scope of their intervention, showcase technology and introduction of innovation to enhance maternal health in Nigeria.
Programme Manager, Saving Mothers Giving Life (SMGL), a maternal health project, Paulina Akanet, explained how the project is improving quality maternal health through capacity building of health workers in Kaduna state.
Akanet said the project being implemented by Pathfinder International is changing the paradigm, especially in the private health care system with strategic innovation, including safe care methodology, improving quality assurance and ensuring synergy between private and public facilities to reduce mortality ratio in the country.
Akanet said the Saving Mothers Giving Life project was first implemented in Cross River State by Pathfinder International, targeted to improve maternal and neonatal health facility services. He said the project focuses on addressing the three delays that lead to maternal deaths and providing access to family planning services, especially the long-acting reversible contraceptives.
Akanet said “ We are working exclusively in the private sector to improve quality service on maternal health in Kaduna. Our project focuses essentially on capacity building of health workers and save care methodology. We focus on the informal sector to ensure implementation of health insurance schemes to reduce out of pocket spending on health”.
She said Project Aisha is another maternal health intervention guided by an overarching vision to have zero preventable deaths for women and children during childbirth, while addressing the systemic drivers of maternal deaths at multiple levels within the health system.
Sharing the project implementation milestones towards improving maternal health in Lagos and Kaduna, Quality improvement advisor, Dr. Emmanuel Ashandole, said project Aisha is addressing the barriers bedeviling maternal health.
Ashandole said the project is working with communities and targeted influencers, including traditional leaders to create awareness on the need for nursing mothers to patronise medical facilities. He said the project is discouraging mothers from using traditional birth assistants to reduce mortality.
“Project Aisha is addressing the barriers and factors causing maternal mortality in the country, including economic, cultural beliefs and practice. We are working with community leaders including traditional rulers to create awareness on the need to use health facilities and stop patronage of local birth attendants.
“We focus on technology driven to train health workers and women to achieve that focus. The project also offers financial support for upgrading of obsolete equipment, recruitment of manpower and training,” Ashandole said.
Another project, Smiles for Mothers, is hinged on financing and operational revitalisation of maternal care. It also showcases the impact of intervention aimed at reducing maternal and newborn mortality in the country.
Head of Service delivery, Smiles for Mothers project, Dr. Tunde Amode, said resources are being provided for health care financing, digitisation of health records management, capacity building of health facility staff and demand creation in Kano, Lagos and Delta, areas of implementation.
Besides, Amode said Smiles for Mothers is harnessing community engagement to correct native mindsets of people about health centres. He said the project embarks on visibility studies to gather public opinion, especially the worries about healthcare services to suit public demands.