Poor maternal and child health continue to be one of the most serious development challenges facing Nigeria.With better health care the deaths of over 50,000 mothers and 250,000 babies a year could be prevented.Targeting this challenge, in 2009 the Government launched a new Midwives Service Scheme with funds from debt relief gains.This initiative recruits unemployed and retired midwives for deployment to primary health centres in rural communities. Midwives are crucial in bringing down maternal, newborn and child mortality rates. Photo:SPARC
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) leads the initiative. Although progress to date has been remarkable, challenges need to be addressed to revitalise primary health care centres, increase the number of skilled midwives, and speed progress towards MDG health goals 4 and 5. Cluster model for obstetric services
The scheme is organised on a cluster model. A group of four primary health care centres and a general hospital form a cluster. The primary health care centres provide basic obstetric care and, if necessary, refer patients to the general hospital for comprehensive emergency obstetric care. To date, the midwives scheme operates in 163 clusters covering 652 primary health care centres nationwide. The scheme gives maternal and newborn child health a much-needed impetus by offering babies a good start in life and improving the well being of mothers. Training
Midwives recruited to the scheme undergo refresher training at midwifery schools and clinics. Training focuses on life-saving skills and managing childhood illnesses. Collaborative effort
Importantly, the initiative involves the three tiers of government and brings in strategic partners. The Federal Government and states have formalised their collaboration in a memorandum of understanding. In addition the Federal Ministry of Women's Affairs has provided ambulances to serve the clusters. This was a clear commitment by government to better...
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