Martins Ifijeh
As part of efforts to boost healthcare provision for women in Nigeria, the country’s government and United States in partnership with General Electric (GE) have launched a new mother-and-child health initiative that would expand access to pre-natal screenings to more than two million expectant mothers across Nigeria by 2020.

The ‘Healthymagination Mother and Child Initiative’ will help reduce preventable mother and infant deaths. The $20 million endeavour will also address maternal and child health challenges among health workers in Nigeria by training midwives, nurses, and other health professionals in the use of the portable ultrasound (Vscan Access) screening tool to determine at-risk pregnancies.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Minister of State for Health, presided over the ceremony and was joined by Dr. Ado Mohammed, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency; U.S. Ambassador James F. Entwistle; and Terri Bresenham, GE’s President and Chief Executive Officer for Healthcare and Sustainable Solutions.

“The U.S. government is committed to engaging in effective and innovative alliances with the private sector to support Nigeria’s critical development needs,” said Ambassador Entwistle. “We are proud to collaborate with GE to bring quality health services to millions of women and children in Nigeria,” he added.

According to GE’s President, “The Healthymagination initiative will target 1300 midwives and pre-natal primary health caregivers with over 100,000 hours of training over the next three years in maternal and child health care. Six states plus the Federal Capital Territory are being targeted.

“GE’s portable ultrasound Vscan Access launched at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May 2015 is a system designed for front-line workers in low-resource settings to help improve maternal health,” he said.

He added that a comprehensive training will start in May, followed by ongoing mentoring and grading in the field by qualified trainers and clinicians. With the gradual ramp up of the programme, expectant mothers will begin to receive the Vscan Access screenings in June at participating primary care clinics and general hospitals,” he noted.

This partnership will allow the U.S. government and GE to achieve their shared objectives and support some of the health challenges facing Nigeria.