By Chioma Obinna
Coca-Cola Company is set to launch a new programme tagged: “The Safe Birth Initiative” to support the Ministries of Health in Nigeria and Ivory Coast to tackle the high incidence of maternal and newborn mortalities.
Disclosing this during a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, the Coca-Cola Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) Group President, Brian Smith, said the programme will focus on strengthening the capacity of maternity and neonatal units in selected public hospitals in the two countries.
“With US$20 million grant from Coca-Cola to Medshare International Inc., the US-based not-for-profit NGO will source essential equipment, kits and supplies worth about US$20 million to enable safe deliveries and post-delivery emergency care for both mothers and their newborns,” Smith said.
“The program will also include the training of biomedical technicians and other appropriate hospital personnel by Medshare International on the operation, repair and maintenance of the donated equipment as well as the reactivation of a huge stock of faulty or abandoned equipment in public hospitals which is a major challenge for the country’s healthcare delivery system.
According to UNICEF’s 2016 State of the World’s Children report, 38 out of every 1,000 babies die within the first 28 days of birth while 645 out of 100,000 women die during or shortly after child birth due to avoidable conditions.
In Nigeria on the other hand, about 40,000 women and 260,000 newborns (excluding 300,000 stillborn) die during or shortly after childbirth annually. For this reason, neonatal mortality is considered as one of the worst public health crises in Nigeria and a major priority for the Government in its resolve to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.
Smith added that, “The commitment to help promote sustainable development in our communities is a fundamental part of Coca-Cola’s strategy for sustainable business growth. This program which demonstrates this commitment will help save the precious lives of many mothers and newborns and also support the remarkable efforts of the Ivorian government at rebuilding this vibrant country”.
Responding, the Ivory President Ouattara welcomed Coca-Cola’s support for the Health Ministry, noting that maternal and child health was an area the country recorded a weak performance under the Millennium Development Goals.
President of Coca-Cola West Africa Business Unit, Peter Njonjo, said “Coca-Cola has a special relationship with women who are pillars of our business, especially in Africa where women play a dominant role in our distribution and retail network.
Just like our 5by20 Initiative, the Safe Birth Initiative which we will be implementing in Ivory Coast and Nigeria is a platform enabling us to promote the wellbeing of women, in this case, as it relates to the special but vulnerable experience of childbirth”.