According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria has a very poor record regarding maternal and child health. An estimated 53,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth annually. Also, 250,000 newborns die, mostly as a result of preventable causes. With this, Nigeria accounts for an estimated 14 percent of maternal deaths worldwide, and remains one of the 10 most dangerous countries for a woman to be pregnant.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, faces serious problems in qualified health worker availability and distribution. This is an underlining factor in the poor maternal and child health situation.
To address these issues, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), in 2009 launched the Midwives Services Scheme (MSS). The scheme was aimed at facilitating an increase in the coverage of Skilled Birth Attendance (SBA) to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality.
Available reports indicate that the launch of the Midwives Services Scheme helped increase the number of skilled birth attendants in targeted facilities, particularly in previously underserved communities. It led to a reduction in the maternal and newborn mortality. However, this progress was not sustained, and death rates started increasing again after the MSS programme was scrapped in 2016 .
Last year, NPHCDA reformed the MSS programme with a view to using the lessons learnt to improve maternal and child health outcomes. Under the modified programme, newly-graduated midwives will be deployed to serve in needy communities.
Hot Fm senior correspondent Chinyere Opia investigates;
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