By Martins Ifijeh

The MTN Foundation (MTNF) and JNC International, in partnership with Oyo, Sokoto, Kaduna, Abia, Cross Rivers and Niger States, have rolled out Maternal Ward Support Project,an initiative aimed at complementing the national objective of reducing maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria.

Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos to reveal this, theExecutive Director, MTNF, Mrs. Nonny Ugboma, explained that with 576 lives lost in every 100,000 pregnant women in the country due to birth complications, the project would be part of efforts to improve access to healthcare and skilled health professionals for maternal and child health.

She said under the project, 24 hospitals across six states in the country will be renovated and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including 20 hospital beds, 20 standard mattresses, 20 bed pillows, 10 four-way foldable ward screen, 20 metal bedside cupboards, 20 visitors’ chairs, 10, drip stands, hydraulic over-bed tables, height adjustable baby cots, and carl novel baby incubators for preterm babies.

While noting that 2,300 under-five children and 145 women of child bearing age die daily in the country, she stressed that the preventable deaths were unacceptable, hence the need to tackle it head on.

“A sizeable number of maternal deaths occur due to lack of access to pre-natal care. So if these soon –to- be mothers had access to proper pre and post natal care, then their deaths may have been averted.

“We believe that the private sector must work with the government and the public sector to help reduce maternal mortality and ensure that our mothers and children live healthy lives.
This is why we started the MTNF Maternal Ward Support. Through this initiative, we seek to contribute to creating unhindered access to health care,” she added.

Explaining the rationale behind the project, Ugboma said the Foundation invested into the programme in recognition of the fact that maternal, neonatal and child health should be one of the highest priorities for any society. Adding that, “the Foundation has invested over N18 billion into key projects spread across health, education and economic empowerment.

Also lending her voice, the Chief Executive Officer of JNC International, Mrs. Clare Omatseye, called on the government to put policies in place that would every pregnant woman in the country access healthcare.

According to her, most Nigerian women still deliver their babies outside the hospital, adding that some causes of maternal mortality includes, bleeding, infections, obstructed labour, high blood pressure in pregnancy, unskilled attendant and poor nutrition among others.

To change the ugly trend, she said there was need to make available quality healthcare services, properly equipped facilities and skilled healthcare professionals.

While receiving the MoU, the representative of each states, commended MTN for the initiative.
According to the Commissioner of Niger State, Dr. Mustapha Jibrin, the outcome of the project will result in reduction of maternal and infant deaths in the four local governments in Niger state where the project is ongoing.

Also commenting on the initiative, the Commissioner for Health, Abia State, Dr. John Ahukannah, declared that the state will endeavor to fulfill their own part of the agreement by ensuring that the equipment were maintained.