Gov Okowa, Ehanire decry Nigeria’s global maternal, child mortality ranking

Gov Okowa, Ehanire decry Nigeria’s global maternal, child mortality ranking

- Nigeria’s ranking as the country with the highest maternal and child mortality rate in the world is still a source of worry

- Delta state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and the minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire have expressed concerns over the situation

- They made their positions known in separate addresses at the opening of the 62nd National Council on Health meeting in Asaba

Delta state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and the minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on Thursday, September 12, decried Nigeria’s ranking as the country with the highest maternal and child mortality rate in the world.

They made their positions known in separate addresses at the opening of the 62nd National Council on Health (NCH) meeting in Asaba, the Delta state capital.

The NCH is Nigeria’s highest policy-making organ on health matters, and platform for the members and stakeholders to consider and deliberate on health issues of national importance.

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Governor Okowa said that Nigeria overtook India as the nation with the highest maternal and child mortality rate in the world in 2015.

He, therefore, said that a review of the Second National Strategic Development Plan was imperative to enhance practicality of its operationalization in view of the fiscal constraints the country was currently facing.

“Of utmost priority is the need to develop viable and sustainable frameworks that would address both maternal and child morbidity and mortality.

“These frameworks must include private sector support as they serve as a strategic source of healthcare service delivery enhancement.

“This is necessary because it is important that interventions are focused on outcomes rather than inputs as this helps to ensure that available resources are judiciously utilized,” Okowa said.

The governor lauded the council for the theme of the conference - Consolidating on the Journey Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage, saying it was apt and dear to him.

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He said that as a medical doctor and former commissioner for health, he had a deep yearning and passionate desire for improvements in the regulation and access to affordable and quality healthcare, especially the poor and vulnerable.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for implementing the Basic Health Care Fund which was part of the National Health Act he facilitated its passage as a senator.

Okowa disclosed that under his watch as governor, Delta became the first state in the country to establish the Contributory Health Commission to drive its Universal Health Coverage scheme for the rural dwellers.

He said that the scheme had between February 2016 when the commission was established, and August 31, 2019, enrolled 630,268 persons.

Earlier, the minister of health had said that in spite of global decline in maternal mortality in the Millennium Development Goals era, the rate in Nigeria remained among the highest in the world, with over 40,000 deaths yearly.

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The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets for maternal mortality by 2030, is for Nigeria to reduce maternal deaths by over 90 per cent (less than 3000 maternal per year).

“In spite of all efforts, women and babies die needlessly; this concern made Federal Ministry of Health engage other stakeholders to develop a ‘Strategic Roadmap for Action’ to be a springboard to accelerate reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality,” Ehanire said.

He commended Okowa for his commitment to the health and wellbeing of Delta citizens, saying it was evident in the inclusion of health in his SMART Agenda and in promoting Universal Health Coverage in the state.

The high point of the occasion was the formal launch of Second National Health Plan.

Meanwhile, the special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, on Monday, September 9, said Nigerians want a country where there is peace, unity and progress especially for the youths of Nigeria.

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Adesina, who spoke at the #NaijaYouthTak programme organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in commemoration of the World Literacy Day in Abuja said, youths are at the centre and this is the time for the young people of Nigeria to shine.

The event which was themed: "The Nigeria We Want," was graced by young advocates across Nigeria of good and quality education, civil society organisations, government officials among many others.

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