By Dayo Johnson
GOVERNOR Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State Monday signed into law a bill on confidential enquiry into maternal deaths with a penalty of six months imprisonment for non-reporting to the appropriate authorities of death of pregnant women during childbirth by all stakeholders in the health sector.
Mimiko who said non-reporting of such death is now a criminal act punishable under the law of the state, added that a fine of N30, 000 or both awaits individual offenders.
He also pointed out that corporate facility would cough out a fine of N100,000 or outright closure of such facility or both.
It would be recalled that the lawmakers in the state had few weeks ago passed the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths bill.
Mimiko also yesterday signed into law the Ondo State Agency for the Control of AIDS, ODSACA, bill.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mimiko said the promulgation of the law would assist in tracking any professional negligence that might contribute to the deaths of pregnant women thereby providing a strategic information base for meaningful preventive interventions.
He explained that the law was not out to punish offenders but meant purely for record purposes as those who report incidents of deaths would not be punished.
According to him, â€œthe law will take effect however, when a clinic, hospital or faith home failed to report death of any pregnant women in their care. But if you report any death, we will record it for our data and that will be all.â€
Mimiko who regretted that there are ample evidence to confirm that there were no accurate data on maternal deaths in the state with under-reporting and misreporting noted that this posed a serious set back to accurate record keeping.
â€œThe World Health Organisation and UNICEF estimate show that a high proportion of maternal deaths that occur in developing countries are attributable to lack of access to health care or the provision of poor quality health care.
â€œMaternal mortality rate is a major indicator used to measure health status, particularly in reproductive health. Besides, high maternal deaths have been a major source of worries in developing countries.
â€œThe state government has made huge investments in guaranteeing good medical care delivery by piloting the ABIYE Programme in Ifedore local government and the building of the Mother and Child Hospital which will be replicated all over the State and where maternal and childcare will be free.
The governor pleaded with the people to comply with the CEMBOS Law without which the impact of the fight against maternal death cannot be felt or sustained.
â€œWe seek your inputs in terms of manpower and material resources to make Ondo State a shining beacon and pacesetter on maternal health policies in Nigeria.
Also while signing Ondo State Agency for the Control of AIDS, ODSACA, bill into law; Mimiko described it as a consummation of painstaking and rigorous efforts to achieve the desired autonomy for HIV/AIDS control and prevention in the state.
The governor decried the 2.4 per cent HIV prevalence rate in Ondo State according to the 2008 National Sentinel Survey by the Federal Ministry of Health, saying it still constitutes a major challenge for public health in the State.
â€œAs an agency, ODSACA will now have increased latitude and the legal backing to carry out its statutory mandate to make Ondo State ultimately HIV-free.
According to him, the passage of the law will significantly enlarge the trajectory of funding for HIV/AIDS activities in Ondo State and open a new vista to take the anti-AIDS campaign to higher levels.
The Health Commissioner, Dr Adeola Adegbemiro lamented that the result of the demographic health survey conducted in year 2008 showed the state has one of the worst health indices in the South West region of the country. Dr Adegbemiro said the present administration is determined to reverse the trend by strengthening the Primary Health care system in the state.