Nigeria gets support to tackle maternal mortality

Timothy Choji, Abuja.


United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, says it plans to restart a national programme to reduce the rate of maternal and child mortality in Nigeria, especially in the North.

The Executive Director of the UNFPA, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin said this at a meeting with Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osibanjo in the company of delegates from his agency and the Department for International Development, DFID.

Professor Osotimehin informed the Vice President that the initiative, if well implemented, would drastically reduce the incidence of maternal deaths.

According to him, “Nigeria constitutes 2% of the world’s population but contributes 10% of the world’s maternal mortality. The UNFPA in partnership with the DFID is proposing a programme that will ultimately reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria by 30% through a child spacing and family planning initiative.’’

Professor Osotimehin, who is a former minister of health said that maternal mortality rates in Nigeria was among the highest, with 111 women dying on a daily basis.

I think there is a convergence now on many of these issues; on early and forced marriage, people have clearly identified that this is a major setback for development and a major problem for us,” Professor Osinbajo stated.

He promised the delegations that the State Governors would work together on the issues alongside the Nigerian government and global agencies like the United Nations and DFID.

Appreciating the work done so far by the UNFPA and DFID on the situation, the Vice President encouraged them to hasten the process of scaling up their interventions in addressing issues associated with maternal and child mortality.

He reiterated that the State governments would be encouraged to embrace the initiatives and sign up, as key partners in the renewed campaign to contain maternal and child mortality in Nigeria.

“I think this is the kind of issue that most of us will be happy to work together on and am sure if we work this out well, we can make this happen without any difficulty. So am very confident that we can really work with you on this,’’ he said.

Development issue
The Permanent Secretary, DFID, Mr Mark Lowcock acknowledged the challenge posed by maternal and child health, saying it is more of a developmental issue than a health challenge.

Mr Lowcock said that the DFID was already financing a programme that supports six million couples every year on family planning.

Both Osotimehin and Lowcock sought the assistance of the Vice President, urging him to encourage State governors and the National Economic Council to work together with international agencies to address the crisis of maternal mortality.