Maternal and Child Mortality: NPHDA to investigate avoidable maternal deaths

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By Chika Onyesi

About 145 Nigerian women are estimated to die daily from avoidable complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth, while about 2,300 under 5 children also die daily from preventable causes.

These alarming indices recently revealed by the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency), Dr. Faisal Shuaib is the reason the agency has declared a state of emergency on Maternal and Child health.

The emergency is also extended to the state of public health in Nigeria, especially at primary health care and rural community levels.

“Having noted the insufficiency of our current efforts to reverse the trend, I hereby declare a state of public health concern on maternal, new-born and child deaths occurring at the Primary Health Care and Community levels’’ He said

Recall that in 2016 the federal government set out to revitalise about 10,000 primary health care centres across the country, it secured a foreign facility of $500 million to this effect.

The goal was to fix 30,000 primary health care centres across Nigeria’s 36 states and each state was to receive $1.5 million to embark on this project.

The aim of the project was to reach about 100 million Nigerians at the local level with health care and most importantly to check maternal and child mortality rates at that level.

Four years later and with revitalisation still underway, incidents of maternal and child mortality continues to escalate.

Analysts argue that the revitalisation effort was not sufficient in improving the quality of healthcare service at primary healthcare level.

According to the primary healthcare agency boss, Dr. Faisal Shuaib ‘‘1 out of every 10 Children less than 5 years old that dies in the world is a Nigerian, while 1 out of every 8 Nigerian children dies before their 5th Birthday’’.

He says this disturbing index on maternal and child mortality is risky for national growth and development and that Nigeria cannot compete with any advanced society in relation to maternal mortality ratios.

‘‘The Primary healthcare agency is outraged by the statistics on maternal mortality as these deaths do not make daily headlines in the press as other cases where such rates are recorded. He said the culture of silence over the preventable deaths must be broken’’ Dr. Shuaib says

Aside the alarming mortality rates; the latest strategy follows a 2018 United Nations Human Development Report on the need for urgent improvements in promoting the rights of women to reproductive health in Nigeria.

Despite several failed approaches to checking the mortality rates, it appears the primary healthcare agency is not relenting in seeking viable solutions.

One of its latest efforts is the strategic approach to rapidly reduce mortality at the Primary Health Care and community levels

The strategy includes the establishment of a National Coordination centre known as the National Emergency Maternal and Child Health Intervention Centre (NEMCHIC).

The centre is expected to work with the National Polio Emergency Operations Centre and transit polio resources towards the utilization of Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child, Adolescent Health plus Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) interventions.

The primary healthcare agency also wants stakeholders and donor agencies to join its campaigns aimed at changing Nigeria’s maternal and child health indices

‘‘We commit to urgently take action to provide leadership to rapidly reverse maternal, newborn and child deaths by half by 2021 through interventions that target the primary health care and community levels’’ Dr Shuaib says

The primary health agency has also resolved to investigate reported maternal deaths and respond within the ambits of the law, using toll-free numbers that it plans to make available to the public.

The move according to Dr. Shuaib is to increase the sense of responsibility and accountability among Nigerians for such preventable death.

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