This Day (Lagos)

13 February 2014

Nigeria: 'What Free Maternal and Child Care Has Done for Us'

The Medical Director of Central Hospital Warri, Delta State, Dr. Kingsley Agholor has disclosed that the provision of free maternal and child care in the state's hospitals has significantly contributed to the drastic reduction of incidents of maternal and child mortality in the state.

Speaking to THISDAY in his office recently, Agholor said the programme was initiated by the Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan in 2007 and it entailed free treatment and drugs for pregnant women from conception to delivery and children from 0-5 years. He stated that the construction of the state-of-the-art Mother and Child Care Hospital within the premises of the Warri Central Hospital has upped the ante in the execution of the programme in the state.

According to him, as a result of the various free health care programmes embarked upon by the state government, the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) has dropped from 456/100,000 births in 2008 to 221/100,000 births in 2011 as against a national MMR at 545/100,000 live births. He added that the programme has resulted into the state rating above the national average in under-five service improving further the state's MMR figures for last year.

"The Delta State government has recorded a lot of successes in the reduction of mortality, morbidity and HIV/Aids prevalence in the state through the provision of quality, accessible and affordable health care services across the state, even as the government has subsidised payments for dialysis treatment for patients suffering from renal failure and other incentives," Agholor stated He said the free under-five medical care programme, which was flagged off in May 2010 has also offered free medical services for all kinds of ailments for children between the ages of 0-5 years, adding that the programme has significantly increased hospital admissions across the state.

He disclosed that when the free maternal health programme was launched in November 2007 at the Central Hospital Ughelli, the services which initially included ante-natal care, deliveries including caesarean sections as well as essential laboratory tests have been expanded to include management of ectopic pregnancies and complications of abortions as well as blood transfusion services currently.

"The goal is to reduce maternal mortality by more than 50%. The government has achieved that and
following the rapidly increasing number of patients benefitting from this programme, several health personnel have been recruited to strengthen the workforce," he stated further. The medical director stated that the health programmes of the Uduaghan administration for which it had received both national and international recognitions is also replicated in other areas. Agholor disclosed that Delta State has one of the lowest rates in the national HIV/AIDS prevalence accounting for just 0.5 per cent. He added that there is a HIV care and counseling unit that provides free services to those who need them.

He stated that pregnant women no longer patronise traditional birth attendants when the state is giving them free and qualitative services at the exquisitely built Mother and Child Hospital. He stressed that the achievements of the state government in the health sector would see it meeting the health-related MDG targets by its deadline of 2015.

He stated that with the state's teaching hospital in Oghara, which is complete with the latest medical equipment and facilities such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), CT Scan, fluoroscopy, ECG, ultrasound and angiographic studies, the stage was set for excellent provision of health care for the people of the state.

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