OPINIONS

Improving Maternal, Infant Health in Ogun

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Recently, Ogun State commissioned Skill Laboratory for the use of students of its School of Midwifery in Abeokuta. This laboratory which was put in place by the state government in conjunction with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities ( UNFPA) would take away the usual practice on life patients with the supervision of an experienced health workers.
The state-of-the-art laboratory is therefore expected to stimulate learning and reduce the risk of coming in contact with patient especially during this period of Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, the patient is also protected given the stress and other risk factors associated with the practice apart from the fact that it allows students to learn within the comfort of the laboratory.
Obviously, the ambience of the skill laboratory will in no small measure enhance learning considering the sensitivity of the medical field which must not be taken with kid gloves. The 2018 National Demographic Health Survey stated inter alia that there are recorded deaths of about 556 mothers in every 100, 000 live births in Nigeria. In Ogun State, the maternal mortality stands at 179 mothers per 100,000 live births. However, the state government is determined to ensure a 25 per cent reduction of this rate by 2022.
In a bid to give maternal and child health the needed attention, the Prince Dapo Abiodun led administration came up with Ogun Health Improvement Programme consisting of some components which when implemented would have ripple effects on the health system. The first step taken in this direction has been the capacity building of health workers which includes the commissioning of the Skill Laboratory. This laboratory will simulate a real delivery thus allowing the student midwives to hone their skill without the risk of error to the mother and child.
Speaking at the commissioning, the Wife of the Governor, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun expressed optimism that the pre-service training of the students Midwives would equip with the skills necessary for delivering a woman of her baby without any problems.
This pre-service training initiative is one of His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun’s investments in Maternal and Child Health aimed at reducing maternal mortality in Ogun State, affirming that the data on the State’s maternal and infant health may be construed as a laudable but the fear of contracting Covid-19 has limited patients’ attendance to health facilities especially pregnant women and mothers and this will inadvertently impact the training and experience the health workers have especially concerning their interaction with patients.
“Consequently,” she said the Ogun State government in conjunction with UNFPA came up with a Clinical Skills Laboratory that will simulate the clinical experience for midwifery students in the State. This will mitigate the low client flow to the facilities as a result of Covid-19, as well as, reduce the risk of midwifery students contracting the virus during the period of clinical experience. It will also ensure uninterrupted delivery of skills to the midwives without necessitating physical interface with patients or clients.”
The laboratory, according to the Commissioner for Health in Ogun State, a respected Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Dr. Tomi Coker, shall acquaint the students with the anatomy of the woman’s body from the basics. The serene and large room which consists of two manequines, among other equipment necessary for demonstration, would be used to put the midwifery students through the process of child delivery, post partum resuscitation of the baby born without screaming, among others.
“It is a good intervention to ensure that students leave Midwifery School confident of themselves. As a government, we are changing the culture of Midwives and all our health workers by promoting “Patients Center Care” such that would emphasise that the most important person in the health facility is the patient,” Coker stated.
In order to extend the gospel of addressing maternal and infant health in all the nooks cranies of the state, especially the rural areas, the state government has in the new year expressed its readiness to renovate and equip 193 primary health centers ( PHCs) in addition to the 43 PHCs which were given a facelift in 2020. This decision would help ensure that the state can take pride in having at least 236 well-equipped and functional PHCs across the 236 wards of the state.
In the same vein, the introduction of tricycle ambulances for easy transportation of patients, especially women in labour to health center is a right step in the right direction. This laudable initiative which is also aimed at stemming the tide of maternal and infant death by outrightly removing the problem of transportation which is globally believed to be a major factor that results in loss of lives.
“The initiative will fast track the process of transporting women in labour to the nearest Primary Health Center and General Hospital when Cesarian Section is necessary. The common cause of infant death is lack of oxygen during child birth for the baby, but early arrival to the health facility will address avoidable loss of life.
“Without mincing words, the major cause of maternal death is bleeding occasioned by lack of transportation in a timely manner which can lead to their demise in case of home delivery. This ambulance can be deployed to pick up the mother and get her to the General Hospital, ” Ogun Health Commissioner hinted.
With the knowledge that bledding and seizures are the leading causes of maternal death, the state government has come up with other interventions such as the introduction of routine low dose aspirin and anti-shock garment in all PHCs across the length and breadth of the Gateway State.

The Prince Dapo Abiodun led government is not stopping at just changing the face of the PHC without ensuring adequate staffing of the facilities. Hence, the present administration has revealed that over 500 Midwives would be recruited while the services of medical doctors who are corps members would be employed.
Similarly, the launch of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund will ensure affordability to the vulnerable, pregnant and children below the age of 5 across the state coupled with the introduction of monthly stipend and running cost for PHCs to aid the transportation of pregnant women and purchase of drugs throughout the nine months period of pregnancy.
These interventions would obviously improve maternal and child health in Ogun State as well bring about an improved data. In the words of the Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Coker, ” Save a mother; save a family. Save a family, save a community. Save a community, nation. Our decisions matter as caregivers to mothers who come trusting us and we must not betray their trust.”
Femi Onasanya is the Press Officer in the Ogun State Ministry of Health ( femibimboo@gmail.com/ 08084818609)

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