CIDR, ACEPHAP Hold Maternal Child Health Summit
The Centre for Infectious Diseases Research (CIDR) and the Africa Centre for Excellence for Population Health and Policy (ACEPHAP) in collaboration with Rand Corporation, USA with support from Marks Family Foundation organised a one day Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Summit.
The Summit took place on Wednesday 21st March, 2023 at Rock View Hotel; Abuja. It brought together crème de la crème in the health sector that x-rayed the state of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health interventions (MNCH) in Nigeria.
The Summit with the theme: Towards an improved MNCH conditions in Nigeria, working together is the key, had the following objectives; to sensitize a wide range of stakeholders on the need and ways to play roles that will improve maternal, newborn and child health interventions (MNCH) situations in Nigeria; to build a consensus among stakeholders on the roles each of them will play as their contribution towards improving MNCH and to come up with a resolutions and realistic intervention that will lead to a better MNCH situation in Nigeria.
In his address at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the summit came at the right time when efforts are on the increase in the nation's determined effort to reduce to the barest minimum the scourge associated with the rising indices of maternal, newborn and child health situations.
The Minister who was represented by the Director, Child Health at the Ministry, Dr. Stella Nwosu, said the Summit came at the right time when all efforts are geared towards reducing to the barest minimum the scourge associated with the rising incidences of maternal mortality.
Dr. Ehanire gave a disturbing statistics in which he said maternal mortality rate as at 1998 was 1,220 deaths per 1,000 and that currently it is 512 deaths per 1,000 births, adding that in the same vein, the neonatal mortality rate was 48 deaths per 1,000 live births as at 2003, but now stands at 39 deaths per 1,000 births.
He also said the under 5 (child) mortality rate which he said was 201 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2003, but now stands at 132 deaths per 1,000 live births. The minister stated that with above data, it showed that Nigeria had made some progress. He however, said with this snail speed inroad, 'we may not be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 3,' he remarked.
The Minister said herein lies the importance of the Summit with the theme; 'Towards an improved MNCH conditions in Nigeria working together is the key.' He said as the summit deliberate on the theme, there was need to harness innovative ideas towards improving the health indices of mother and children.
In proffering solution he said, the need for an overarching multi-stakeholder partnership coordination platform cannot be overemphasized as all available resources
required effective high level coordination to create synergy, avoid duplication, reduce wastages and harmonize all efforts in health service delivery across the country.
The Minister hoped that the summit would provide the forum where 'we shall all throw up issues plaguing the health sector within the sphere of MNCH, and with a view to proffering solutions so that we can at least achieve the Goal 3.
In his address, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Sagir Adamu Abbas represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and Development, Professor Abdullahi Sule- Kano, commended the organizers of the summit. He said the summit couldn't have come at a better time than now when all efforts are being concentrated in improving the nation's health sector particularly in finding solutions to the high rate of maternal mortality. He wished them a successful summit.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Dr. Nasiru Sani-Gwarzo stated that the nation's maternal mortality rate was not encouraging, adding that aftermath of conflicts, insurgency have contributed to exacerbate the maternal and child health situations. He said insecurity, terrorism and insurgency had been identified as the some of the major factors heightening maternal and child mortality.
He said the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs have done a lot of intervention in the IDP camps across the north east and other parts of the country affected by one disaster or the order, in terms of hunger, shelter, and diseases as well as maternal and child mortality.
The permanent Secretary who took time to explain some of the modest achievements of the Humanitarian Ministry, thanked the organizers of the summit and hoped that at the end, concrete suggestions would be put in place for stakeholders in the health sectors as well as policy makers would find useful in the quest for finding lasting solution to the rate of maternal mortality in the country.
During the technical session, two papers were presented. The first paper titled: 'Addressing the Challenges of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) in Nigeria: Collective Action' was delivered by the Director, ACEPHAP, Professor Hadiza Galadanci. In the paper, she observed with concern that maternal, newborn health was affected by a lot of competing needs. The COVID-19 pandemic had gone a long way to affect the health of the whole world and had also really affected maternal, newborn health. Professor Galadanci disclosed that a lot of the gains recorded in maternal mortality had been lost because of the pandemic.
She said to reduce to the barest minimum the rising incidences of high maternal mortality, health care providers, civil societies and community/ traditional and religious leaders need to embark on raising awareness on the importance of anti-natal and post-natal visits. They should also raise awareness about harmful traditional practices; embark on social mobilization and dissemination of health care messages to mothers in the ruralareas.
The ACEPHAP Director stated that community, traditional and religious leaders should learn to ask questions; why don't we have the right health care providers, the right drugs and insist on mothers going to the hospital to give births. She insisted that the whole issue bothered on advocacy, advocacy, and advocacy.
The second paper titled: 'Health and humanitarian challenges of women and children affected by insecurity', was presented by Dr. Fatima Damagum. She painted a gloomy pictures of life in the IDP camps as well as the challenges of hunger, diseases facing the inmates particularly women and children. She said the venomous effects of conflict on maternal and child health had a broad expanse such as lack of safe and sanitary facilities, food shortage, and dearth of health care personnel as well as reduced access to health services. She said there was need for Nigerian Government to pay special attention to the north east region in a timely manner.
The summit ended with a round table discussion involving senior medical personnel on the concomitant effect of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. At the end of the discussion suggestions on the way forward were proffered.