By Chioma Obinna
The latest innovation amongst State governments in the country appears to be hinged on improvement of maternal and child health in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5.
This has been the trend ever since the Lagos State Government blazed the trail with the establishment of ultra modern MaternalÂ & ChildÂ Centres (MCC) that are specifically dedicated for ensuring survival of children and their mothers before and during pregnancy as well as after delivery.
As a result of the development maternal and child health is fast becoming the most desirable dividend of democracy in Nigeria as the various state governments appear to be in a battle to out do one another in that area.
Following closely in the foot steps of the LagosÂ State government, many other States, notably, Ondo, Rivers and Ebonyi States have each come up with their various versions of the safe motherhood initiative.
As much as the healthy competition is getting hotter, it is a healthy one because the ultimate beneficiary is the Nigerian mothers and their children. This may also be connected with the report of the United Nations Population Fund (UNICEF) that one out of every five children in Nigeria dies before the 5th birthday, 500 newborns die daily and one pregnant woman dies every 10 minutes during childbirth. Whether these depressing statistics is indeed accurate or not,Â the sad state of women health in Nigeria is definitely an issue that must be remedied as these states are doing now.
Just last week, the Lagos State government took another step ahead with the commissioning of the third MCC in series this year.Â It is now an established fact that one of the reasons why the state government decided to go into the MCC initiative was because of the unacceptably high maternal and child deaths, delay in accessing care due to far distance places women have to travel before they could obtain health care.
At a time a lot needed to be done to improve maternal health in the State, with about 37 percent of births taking place im medical facilities across the State, theÂ risks of labour complications were high and the government and people of the state increasingly raised the need for prioritsation of mother and child healthcare in the state.
Before now, the maternal mortality rate in Lagos hovered around 650 per 100,000 live births. Precisely, last weekÂ Thursday, Governor Babatunde Fashola handed over the ultra modern Maternal and Child Centre in Ifako Ijaiye area of Lagos to the community.
Today, the gains of the MCCs are already glaring as a total of 9,391 patients made up of mothers and children have been attended to at the three MCCs since they were handed over.
Mrs. Shade Gbemiga is one of the beneficiaries. According to her, you need not a soothsayer to say that the place is in 100 per cent in use as you can see for your self that women are trooping in out of the hospital.
â€œI just gave birth yesterday. You can see many women here.Â I was not asked to pay.Â I am happy that the establishment of these centres will at least reduce the number of women that die due to lack of care.â€
Addressing the overwhelming crowd who were mainly women in different colours and shapes, at the 100-bed capacity specialist hospital, Fashola promised that the State will surpass goals four which talks about reducing child maternal mortalityÂ and five on improving maternal healthÂ of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before year 2015.
â€œWe are not waiting for 2015. Work has already started, we will achieve and surpass 2015,â€ he assured.
He added that his party, the Action Congress is a party of ideas that believes that the MDGs should be the minimum of any party willing to form government adding that the Action Congress is providing a stabilisation to the foul odour of mismanagement in the country.
The Governor said when he resumed duty, it was realized that the maternal mortality rate was high and unacceptable and resolved to do something about it, part of which was to take the Maternal Child Care Centres closer to the people.
He said about 960 people would be offered employment in the eight MCC being constructed by the administration across the state with three already completed and handed over.
Fashola said Ifako-Ijaiye has become very pivotal in delivery of health care in Lagos State because it is the same Local Government where the State commenced the screening for hypertension and diabetes which has gone round the state with medical experts not only providing screening but recommending diet and lifestyle changes to the people.
He added that the people are already receiving quality attention at the various MCCs which have been handed over to the people in Ikorodu, Isolo and Ifako-Ijaiye, adding that it will not only bring the hospitals closer to the people but save them transportation cost.
In a chat with Good Health Weekly, one of theofficials of Deux Project, which has been providing facility management services for the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in the past six years, Mr. Shienu Thankappan, said the project was all aboutÂ restoring the dignity of people, save lives as well as prolong our womenâ€™s lives and create access to best of treatments.
Thankappan who noted that improving maternal and infant /child health indices remains a major public health concern in Africa and Nigeria in particular explained that the MCC would address the problem of high infant and mater mortality indices in the state.
He said the 100 – bed capacity modern hospital has emergency services, out patient and in patient clinics, family planning services, laboratory services, operating theatres and delivery facilities.
He said due to power unreliability, access to all floors has been provided by a ramp which will allow tow patient trolleys to pass simultaneously.Â At the side of the building is a fire service stair way. Each floor is provided with adequate conveniences for staff and patient use.
On whether it will compare with other hospitals , he said, the maternal has been adequately, furnished and equipped to provide optimal patient care commensurate with global best practices.
For sustainability, we are training the local health workers to continue from where we stopped. But with this centre, you are sured that 100 patients are going to recover from any kind of illness at the same time.