By Kemi Olatunde
I have two children and my husband, a mechanic I have decided not to give birth again because I can only deliver through CS which I did for free during the last administration in the state.
“I thought I would not give birth again because of my condition, now, that the State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu would soon begin free health service for pregnant women in the state, I think this is a good opportunity for me to have my desired number of children.
“I can’t wait for the programme to commence. The governor has done me a great favour with this and I pray that he succeeds in all he does.”
The above statement was made by a roadside trader and mother of two, Adebisi Olamilekan while commending the governor for his achievements in the health sector in less than two years of his administration.
Few weeks ago, the present government made known his intention to take good care of the vulnerable group, that is, pregnant women and children between the ages of 0 and five years, it would not be a bad idea to applaud this government for this, as it shows how it values its people.
No doubt, the governor is giving priority to the health of citizens.
Taking care of the vulnerable group goes along way in preparing for the future of the state. In a situation where a pregnant woman is unable to provide the necessities for her delivery, she might not get the best treatment and in the process might loose her life or that of the baby during delivery. If on the other hand, she delivers safely without thinking of any necessity for her delivery process, both her life and that of her baby are preserved, hence giving them the opportunity to fulfill their destinies and also contribute their quota to the development of their society.
It is apparent through the elevated mortality rates that the lack of access to or use of quality delivery services is an issue of immense importance in Nigeria. Problems such as obtaining money for treatment, distance to health facility and having to take transport are some of the many difficulties stated by women in describing difficulty with accessing healthcare.
According to World Health Organisation, Nigeria, in the past few years has experienced some worsening child mortality . The infant mortality rate evaluated at 100 per 1000 in 2003 was measured at 87 in 1990. This can be in part explained by the persisting low numbers of births occurring in health facilities and the low number of births attended by trained healthcare service providers. In 2003, two third of the births in Nigeria still occurred at home. In addition about one-third of births are attended to by doctors, nurses, or midwives. In 2000 the maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria was 800 per 100 000 live births.
The aforementioned lack of trained health care attended births in Nigeria is compounded by the fact that only six in ten mothers receive antenatal care from a trained medical professional. Nurses and midwives are the most frequently used source of healthcare. Good antenatal care can prevent the major causes of neonatal mortality in Nigeria—neonatal tetanus, malaria, and maternal anemia. However, as of 2003 only 58 percent of pregnant women received iron supplements and only 39 received drugs to prevent malaria.
The consequences of the poor state of pregnant women in Nigeria are numerous and affect maternal as well as child mortality. The under five mortality ratio in Nigeria is 201 per 1000 live births meaning that one in five Nigerian children never reach the age of 5. Infant deaths, which account for half of child mortality have increased from what they were in 1990. With a 13% immunization rate for children between 12-23 months, Nigeria is the African country with the lowest vaccination rate. Substantial presence of Acute Respiratory Infections and diarrhoea also contribute to the elevated mortality rates for children
A 2016 UNICEF report indicated that an estimated 2,600 children died within the first 24 hours every day of the year. For almost two million newborns, their first week was also their last. In all, 2.6 million children died before the end of their first month. Among those children, more than 80 per cent died from preventable and treatable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery, and infections like sepsis and pneumonia.
Speaking with Weekend Digest, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro explained that it is the desire of government to ensure that the vulnerable group is well taken care of saying, “government has decided to take care of them at no cost by making provision for them.”
Before now, two hospitals were made use of by the immediate past government for this type of service but the Arakunrin led government has added more hospitals especially from other senatorial districts, hence spreading to other areas for the benefit of all.
According to Adegbenro; “The Mother and Child hospitals in Akure and Ondo were on ground then for it but now, government has scaled it up to other zones.
We now have two hospitals in the north designated as Mother and Child hospital that is State Specialist Hospital, Ikare – Akoko and General Hospital, Owo while in the South, we have General Hospital Ore, State Specialist Hospital, Okitipupa and General Hospital, Igbokoda which have been designated for the free service.”
Weekend Digest gathered that these hospitals would operate the free service to those concerned alongside their normal operation.
One interesting thing about the free health service is that it would be gotten in every health facility that is the health centres are not exempted from it.
“Other health facilities like the Primary Health Centres would provide the service at their own primary level but they refer when some cases are beyond them thus they would serve as mini Mother and Child.” Adegbenro explained.
Also speaking with weekend Digest, Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Hospital Management Board, Dr. Niran Ikuomola added that the designated centres are set to enjoy the privileges enjoyed by the initial Mother and Child hospitals and commended government for the development, saying “it would boost the health sector of the state.”
He hinted that the board has all hands on deck to ensure the programme becomes a success, saying “we would ensure that quality services are provided and also avoid unnecessary overburdened of staff among others.”
Although, it is yet to began but weekend Digest gathered that government is putting in place the necessary machinery to ensure that it is hitch free when it commences soon.