Bayelsa State currently has the poorest record of maternal mortality rate among the states of the south-south region in particular and the country in general.
Professor Ebitimitula Etebu, the Commissioner for Health, disclosed this on Monday in Yenagoa while declaring open the commencement of the week-long first round 2017 Maternal, New-born and Child Health Week (MNCHW) in the state.
Etebu, who put the maternal mortality figure at 1,870/100,000, attributed “this sad state of affairs” to low coverage of key high-impact interventions in virtually all previous rounds, and poor access to communities, especially due to a plethora of hard-to-reach areas occasioned by the extensive riverine terrain.
He listed other factors to include poor social mobilization of the peoples and communities, training/knowledge gaps amongst health care workers and health care staff attrition.
“The state has carried out 14 rounds of the MNCH since when the week was first birthed, and in all that time, the state has not performed well in all measurable indices due, in most part, to the reasons highlighted earlier,” Etebu said.
He said the MNCHW is a product of the 53rd National Council on Health Meeting aimed at delivering integrated, high-impact and low-cost preventive and curative health services to children and pregnant women.
He noted that the programme, which is implemented in two rounds, six months apart in any given year, also serves to strengthen routine services delivered at the health facilities and that it is a simple, one-time delivery mechanism which consolidates facility-based outreach services at the state, local government area and ward levels.
Etebu, however, stated that for the first time ever, the state has an excess of commodities and has partnered with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including Vitamin A Angels, Rotary International and the Preventive Health Care Initiative, among others, to bring expertise from the wider health community to bear on the programme.
He said the interventions during the week would include vitamin A supplementation in children, de-worming of children using albendazole, nutritional assessment of children using MUAC tape, birth registration, intermittent treatment of malaria in pregnant women, HIV counselling and testing and routine immunization, and counselling on key household practices like hand washing, among others.
The commissioner expressed hope that the material and human resources that had been deployed to ease “what has been a most Herculean of tasks for us” would improve the maternal mortality record of the state at the end of the exercise.
In her remarks, Mrs. Gloria Izonfuo, Commissioner representing Bayelsa at the National Population Commission, said the agency apart from its primary function of organizing national census, has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Health concerning integrating data registration processes in activities such as the MNCHW.