Vanguard (Lagos)

17 July 2012

Nigeria: Experts Task Global Community On mHealth, High MMR

Rural woman using her cellphone.

THE unacceptably high maternal mortality and morbidity in the country would be curbed if essential prenatal care, skilled attendants, and trained midwives supported by trained Traditional Birth Attendants and emergency medical transport, are based in clean, well equipped facilities, with essential medications, and specialist care for life-threatening complications.

Medical experts from Matercare International, MCI specialists with the Global obstetrical Community under the aegis of World Federation of Catholic Medical Association, FIAMC, at the international scientific conference/7th Annual General Meeting in Lagos with the theme:"Marshall Plans for Reducing Maternal Mortality in Nigeria," lamented

the unchecked trend that the international community has made poor progress at improving maternal health, especially in the world's most desperate regions.

In his submission, Founder, MCI, Dr. Robbert Walley noted: "There is basically a lack of compassion, innovation, a conspiracy of silence and an inappropriate reliance on reproductive health which is irrelevant to reducing 91 percent of the direct obstetrical causes of maternal mortality. " Reiterating the commitment of MCI at providing lifesaving services to mothers in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, Walley urged the international community to implement the Charter of maternal rights, the first since 1930, which lays out what is required in order to prevent 91 percent of maternal deaths developed by MCI.

In his paper entitled " Using mHealth to Improve Maternal Health in Nigeria", a Senior analyst, at Altarum Institute, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, Mr. Charles Nwasor examined the prospects of leveraging Mobile Health (mHealth) in transforming the delivery of maternal health services.

He observed that the state of maternal health in Nigeria is prime for disruption if the high rate of deaths and injuries that occur due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth must be stemmed.

"Nigeria is second only to India as the most hazardous place in the world for expectant mother, with only about 2.2 percent of the world's population/ Nigeria bears 14 percent of the global burden of maternal deaths. This means that roughly 109 Nigerian women and girls die every day; while at least another 20 suffer severe physiological injuries

for every one of those deaths. Yet these numbers, however grim, are likely underreported because of the high incidence of non-facility based birth attendants," he posited.

Noting that Nigeria had over the last decade, recorded a high positive number in the use of mobile telephony, he added it creates an opportunity to disruptive innovation by capitalising on the high penetration rate of low-cost mobile technology to enhance the delivery of maternal health services in the country.

Nwasor said mobile technologies would transform healthcare by improving the reach, quality, and effectiveness of healthcare services.

For him, mHealth can have more lasting impact on the way care is accessed, delivered, and advanced, when combined with other health information technologies like electronic health records systems.

Earlier, President, Catholic Doctors Association of Nigeria, Lady Henrietta Williams urged Nigerians to plug into the various well meaning initiatives thrown up by both government and other agencies to curb the growing cases of maternal death.

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