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Curbing infant and maternal mortality



Curbing infant and maternal mortality

The level of maternal and infant mortality in Kebbi State is high. In this report, AHMED IDRIS reviews the role of Dr. Zainab Atiku Bagudu, a medical practitioner and wife of the Kebbi State Governor, in the fight to reverse the trend, as well as reform health institutions in the state


In 2000 the maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria was 800 per 100 000 live births. The under five mortality ratio in Nigeria was 201 per 1000 live births meaning that one in five Nigerian children never reached the age of five. Infant deaths, which accounted for half of child mortality have increased from what they were in 1990.


A United Nations (UN) report released on May, 2012 called ‘Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010,’ showed that 14 per cent of the world’s deaths related to childbearing occurred in Nigeria. Six years after, that situation has not changed.


The five major killers driving maternal deaths in the country are severe bleeding, infections, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy (eclampsia), obstructed labour and complications following unsafe abortion. Globally, about 80 per cent of maternal deaths are due to these causes and every day, about 1000 women die due to them. Experts attributed high maternal and child deaths to key indicators for achieving safe motherhood that have not changed in the last 10 years in the country.


For example, contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) in the country has remained low at 10 per cent of people of reproductive age; the rate of antenatal attendance by pregnant women has remained at 64 per cent; while skilled birth attendance during child delivery of 33 per cent is one of the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa. With these abysmal indicators of maternal and reproductive health care, it is not surprising that no significant achievements have been made over the past decade in reducing maternal mortality in Nigeria.


While the data on Nigeria’s maternal mortality ratio may reflect the current situation in states in the west and eastern part of the country, those in the south-south and several parts of the north often record higher number of maternal deaths. It is therefore in efforts to curb high maternal and child deaths that wife of the Kebbi State Governor, Dr. (Mrs.) Zainab Atiku-Bagudu’s intervened to reverse the trend in Kebbi State.


The passion of Mrs. Bagudu in curbing maternal and infant mortality in Kebb State recently received a boost as some local and international bodies expressed determination to sustain their collaboration with the state government.


Also, her non-governmental organisation, Medicare Foundation stepped in to stop the menace of maternal and child death in the state.


The need to reduce infant mortality in Kebbi State, was informed by a revelation by the Chief of Health, UNICEF in Nigeria, Sanjana Bhardwaj, that many babies born in Kebbi State do not survive their first month of life while many of them die on the day they were born.

UNICEF stated further that the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/2017, indicates that the rate of newborn deaths per 1000 births is 55 in Kebbi State. This, he said, is drastically higher than the national average of 37 deaths per 1000 births.


“More than 80 per cent of these deaths are due to prematurity, asphyxia, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis, and simple, affordable solutions exist, but they are often not reaching the children and mothers who need them most, those living in the most disadvantaged areas and enduring the harshest conditions.”


Observers have said that the prevalence of this informed the commitment of Dr. Atiku-Bagudu, a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, who is utilising her experience at the National Hospital Abuja where she earlier worked to identify the medical needs of the people of the state.


When her husband assumed duty as Governor of Kebbi State, Dr. Bagudu, has been using her experience and profession to work on reducing by almost 80 per cent abandoned health cases.


In her first assignment as the wife of the Kebbi State governor, Dr. Bagudu visited some health centers and hospitals and ensured they were renovated with the support of the state government. She also started inviting the donor agencies to collaborate with the government in this regard.


Top on the list are the European Union (EU)-UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) for the Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) project, which has been supporting high impact programme in the areas of maternal, child health and nutrition that are aimed at addressing preventable maternal and child deaths in the state.


With her NGO supporting group, Dr. Bagudu also collaborated with some American doctors where they offered free medical care to the people of the state and neighboring states also benefited. The free medical outreach was done in three batches and also eye treatment was also carried out where people enjoyed the service by saving thousands of lives.


Similarly, Bagudu has also demonstrated commitment by empowering youth, women and orphanage; she donated many items to the less privileged, and also constructed and renovated health centers.

However, she was able to build new maternity homes across the three senatorial zone while transforming health care centers and bringng sanity to institutions, saving women as well as the lives of children.


She also played a major role recently as the state government in collaboration with EU, UNICEF and other donors flagged-off MNCH Week and also commissined a Dalijan Primary Healthcare Center. The ceremony, which took place at the Dalijan under Gwandu Local Government area of the state, was also witnessed by the member of EU, UNICEF and others with the aim to promote the healthcare service system in the state.


The Kebbi State Governor who was represented at occasion by his Deputy, Ismail Yombe, said that the present   administration was commited to the qualitative healthcare delivery of its people, which has been demonstrated by increasing the budget provision for healthcare, resulting in revamping healthcare delivery service system in the state.



He commended the EU-UNICEF for the MNCH project which has been supporting high impact programme in the areas of Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition that are aimed at addressing preventable maternal and child deaths in the state.


The Minister of Counselor and Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation in Nigeria, Mr. Kurt Cornelis, expressed satisfaction with the level of performance on the ground, and urged the state government to put more efforts in promoting the healthcare system.


Mr. Kurt who was on assessment tour alongside other donor agencies such as WHO, UNICEF and the NPHCDA, Abuja commended the effort of the state government for utilising the intervention money given to them by the EU.


He also called for increased budgetary provision for the health sector and more commitment in order to curb the maternal mortality, eradicate polio and other five killer diseases in the state.


Dr. Bagudu assured them of full implementation of all health programmes across the state.


In his remark, the representative of the WHO and the Head of RMNCH cluster, Dr. Andrew L. Mbewe, said they were in the state to see how far the state has gone on the implementation of the funds released to them.


He also explained further that WHO has been assisting Kebbi State Government most especially in the areas of malaria, nutrition, polio and other related health cases, which has shown positive results.


The Chief of Health on UNICEF, Dr. Sanjana Bhardwaj, commended the Kebbi State Government for effectively utilising the funds given to the health sectors, adding that they were ready to partner with the state as they have achieved a lot in healthcare delivery.


Representative of the NPHCDA and Director, Department of Community Health Services Abuja, Dr. Nneka U. Onwu, also assured the Kebbi State of Federal Government and EU support on health and other institutions in the state. He urged the state government to review the issue of manpower and ensure more medical staff were employed in the state.

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