BY CHIOMA OBINNA

THE Lagos State government  recorded a total of 20,638 safe deliveries between January and October, 2013 as a result of deliberate and well-laid-out policies to enhance the indices of maternal health.

Jide IdrisLagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who disclosed this, was optimistic that with the positive downward trend of maternal and child mortality in public health institutions, targets of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs were within reach.

“The safe deliveries of these babies which recorded through normal deliveries of 11,312 and Caesarean Section, CS, of 8,800 did not happen without proper planning, he told  Good Health Weekly in a chat.

“With the past record of maternal and child mortality in the state, we instituted the Maternal and Child Health programme one year ago, precisely, in October.

We intend to run it at least up to October this year. We have been collecting data to see if there is any need for us to change or add to our strategies. But from what we have seen so far, we do not need to change our strategies because right now we have seen downward trend in maternal and child mortality rates and also in disease burden.”

“The key indicators we are seeing now are not ordinary. There was a committee established by the state government which involves people from government, outside of government, academia, NGos etc. The idea is to get the stakeholders input into the design of the programme.

The design was fashioned after addressing some specific major causes of this materiality mortality and child mortality.”

Idris who said  the Ministry has continued to address the three delays; – in seeking assistance or help due to either lack of information, or due to ignorance that women do not recognise signs of emergency during pregnancy or gender inequality, lack of infrastructrure or poverty, added that even with information and availability of facilities, skilled manpower was a major factor that has been addressed.

“This happened because we fashioned our programme towards these three delays.  In doing that, we divided the state into four districts and we have been to all the four where we engage members of the communities with a view to generating data.”

The Maternal and Child hand booklets produced by the State government has helped in the enlightenment, To date, the Ministry has distributed over 39,100 maternal booklets and 92,600 child health booklets.

“We are also tackling the two commonest causes of maternal mortality – post partum haemorrhage and eclampsia by purchasing two obstetric drugs, Misprostol and Magnesium Sulphate for all health facilities.

Idris recalled that more women now visit the state’s Primary Health Centres, PHCs.

“To attract women to the PHCs, we procured a large number of mama kits used for normal delivery. As of today, we have distributed over 15,000 of these kits. It is an all-in-one kit that contains everything needed to help provide clean and safe delivery.”

Data from the state’s three senatorial districts show that  more women are now attending antenatal care. From data collected over the last 10 months, the cases  that have gone for antenatal care are 15 percent more than the number of cases  that went for antenatal care the whole of 2012

“More people are delivering in the facilities.   We recorded 15 percent increase in antenatal care at the primary care centres, and 13 percent increase at the PHC  facilities, At the secondary care facilities, we have increase of 32 percent in antenatal care visits and for deliveries, right now the first 10 months, we have seen 98 percent increase  than we saw in 2012.   By the time we check November and December we would see more increase.”

From the positive indicators so far, 42 percent of deliveries through CS were successful thanks to the well-equipped facilities and skilled manpower.

The reduction in maternal deaths is n achievement. Idris said a committee has been set up to review the deaths. “We have set up committee to go to hospitals and find out these deaths after which they will meet to review these deaths to find out what we could have done to avert these deaths.”

To date, the committee has reviewed 67 out of 76 cases, and all lapses recorded are being addressed.

Reiterating that deaths of women and children were unacceptable to the state government, Idris said, “I cannot give you the current maternal rate but I can tell you that we are having a downward trend in our public facilities.

“From the data we have collected, in 2010, maternal deaths were 318, by 2011 it went down to 201. In 2012 it further went down to 195, and we are just collating for 2013.

That can give us a downward trend but it cannot give us an accurate statistics of maternal rates because to get an accurate figure you must collate all the deaths in the State.  If we continue at this rate, we will meet the health MDGs,” he noted.

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