By SOla Ogundipe
THE World Bank is seeking to adopt Ondo State’s Safe Motherhood Programme tagged the “Abiye Initiative” as a model for achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals on maternal health within the African continent.
Abiye, brainchild of the Governor Olusegun Mimiko administration recieved accolades from the global health body recently in Washington DC, in the United States of America aftera presentation of a comprehensive report on the project.
World Bank African Region Vice President, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili remarked that “Ondo State had provided a role model and benchmark for the African continent in tackling infant and maternal mortality rate” even as the World Bank recommended the Abiye Programme be adopted as a model for achieving MDG-5 throughout Africa.
Goal 5 of the MDGs adopted in 1990 by Nigeria and all member bodies of the United nations, sets two targets – one, to “reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio”, and two, to “achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health”.
Nigeria currently accounts for more than 10 percent of the world’s maternal and infant deaths, but through the Abiye Programme, Ondo State is recording significant progress in maternal and infant health.
Urging other States of the Federation to adopt the Abiye strategy and the Federal government in particular to replicate same throughout Nigeria as “a sure and fast means of combating infant and maternal mortality challenge,” the global body admonished other African countries to learn from the experience even as it expressed commitment towards providing assistance to helping expand the initiatives in tackling global infant and maternal mortality.
In his presentation, Mimiko stressed the uniqueness of the Abiye Programme’s tripartite structure involving pregnant mothers and young children up to age 5; health centres or clinics near them and the Mother and Child Hospital (MCH) initiatives, all linked via the Health Rangers, communication tools, and various types of transportation. There is also a high degree of professionalism and comprehensiveness in project design and execution.
In a an overview, Prof Niyi Akinnaso, a lecturer of Anthropology and Linguistics at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA, the Abiye programme was summed up as essentially focusing on four major factors which predispose pregnant mothers and infants to death.
“These include the three delays (in seeking care when complications arise, reaching care when decisions are taken to seek care, accessing care on arrival at a healthcare facility; and in referring care from where it is initiated to where it can be completed.”
According to Akinniyi, the Abiye Programme was designed to combat these factors, with specific strategies developed to ameliorate or even block particular delays, through establishment of Health Rangers, specially trained community health extension workers, equipped to take care of pregnant mothers and infants up to age 5.
“As of June 12, 2011, barely 15 months into its operation, 26,150 patients had been treated and 5,879 babies had been safely delivered, 905 by Caesarian Sections.
A comparison of maternal mortality rates with major medical facilities in four different states indicated that the Abiye Programme had the lowest maternal mortality ratio during its first year of operation.”