A proposed expansion of Midwives Service Scheme is to create some 19,000 jobs and save 3 million lives over the next four years in efforts to shore up maternal and child health under the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P.
The expanded four-year programme, tagged MSS-Plus and to be run by the National Primary Health Care Development agency, will stretch to include 500 more health facilities, in addition to the 1,000 involved in the MSS, said minister of state for health Dr Muhammad Pate.
He said SURE-P will provide billions of naira in additional funding--accrued from subsidy removed from petrol pump price this January--"that will save the lives of millions of mothers and children in Nigeria, thereby improving the current low human development indices of maternal and child morbidity and mortality."
MSS-Plus will seek nationwide deployment of 2,000 more midwives, 2,000 extra community health officers, 6,000 community association workers and 9,000 village health workers, said Dr Ado Muhammad, executive director of NPHCDA, which runs the existing MSS.
To generate demand for health services, MSS-Plus will also pay women cash incentives as reward for registering for antenatal care, visiting ANC centres at least four times, and delivering their babies in health facilities or using skill birth attendants.
The cash-transfer concept within MSS-Plus has been pegged at N5,000 in separate installments, but stakeholders are still finishing up work plan for the programme before it is launched later this year.
Project coordinator for SURE-P's maternal and child health project, Dr Ugo Okoli, said that the MSS-Plus will also seek better involvement of ward development committees and other non-traditional partners in basic health care, adding that the cluster model of four primary health care centres to one referral health facilities would be maintained.