17 July 2014

Nigeria: WARDC Unveils Campaign to Curb Maternal Deaths

To help reduce the high risk of maternal mortality rate in Nigeria, the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) recently launched a campaign 'Not Again'.

The campaign, sponsored by MacArthur Foundation, was launched to assist the country to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), educate, organise and mobilise women across the country from local community to national level; and to raise maternal and child health of underdeveloped and developing countries to an equitable level with the rest of the world. Speaking at the programme, the Executive Director of WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi stressed that maternal, neonatal and under-five mortality rates are highest in sub-Saharan African and Southern Asia, saying Nigeria was second to India in the issue of maternal mortality which has to be properly cared for and leave women and children safe when delivering. She further said women have typical features in maternal health issues as victims and objects rather than active subject in the campaign against maternal death since children under five are still related to maternal health.

Through the campaign 'Not Again', WARDC intends to join effort with government at level and professionals to create and increase public awareness on maternal health issues as a human rights concern for public discourse, and demand provision of quality maternal health services which will also contribute to significant reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity in the country as it was set worldwide.

"WARDC intends to promote the discourse that maternal health issue is a human rights concern and that government has the obligations to ensure that women's human rights are respected, promoted and protected. We want to ensure the maternal death is zero in Nigeria so that the mother can take give proper care to her child. Let come together to stop to this issue by mobilising and educating our women on what to do when they notice they have miss their period in order to be on a saver side when she reach delivery time", she stressed.

According to the Medical Officer of Health, Local Community Development Area (LCDA), Onigbongbo, Dr. Ibiwunmi Akinde, Maternal and Child Mortality Reduction (MCMR) programme was launched in Lagos on October 18, 2012 where it has constructed 10 Public Health Centres (PHCs) across the states, with seven already unveiled in areas such as Isolo, Ifako Ijaiye, Ikorodu, Amuwo, Ajeromi, Alimosho and Surulere, where there would be free antenatal care and delivery service, workers given adequate training, and government involved in private sector and traditional doctors.

Speaking further, she said 57 PHCs would be provided in all local governments across the country with 24-hours daily services, which would take care of antenatal, delivery, post-natal, Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) and family planning. Akinde said the implementation of the National Integrated Maternal, Newborn and Child Health strategy was also to fast track high impact intervention packages such as immunisation, Insecticide-Treated Nets (ITNs), PMTCT, and strengthen the health system at the federal, state and local governments and the passing of the NHIS which integrates public and private health sector to make healthcare more affordable.

She said the use of skilled birth attendants should be expanded; qualitative antenatal care; improved health systems; accessible and affordable contraception; elimination of harmful practices; community mobilisation; adding that provision of clean delivery kits was important to reduce maternal mortality in any society.

Safe Motherhood Initiative (SMI) was launched in 1987 by United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Bank to raise awareness about maternal deaths, empower women, set up efficient antenatal care and working referral systems, emergency management of obstetric cases and increase family planning awareness; SURE-P and Midwife Service Scheme also to increase number of deliveries being attended by SBA (doctors, nurses, midwives).

The campaign launch and signatures collection was done by the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji.

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