Maternal, child deaths: Nigeria has more unemployed nurses, midwives – SOGON
Says Nigeria’s contribution to global maternal and child deaths a shame
There are more graduate unemployed nurses and midwives in Nigeria than those engaged by health facilities in the country, Society of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists of Nigeria, SOGON, has said.
Secretary-General of the group, Dr. Chris Agboghoroma, stated this in Abuja at an Orientation Meeting on Immersion for health reporters on Friday in Abuja.
The immersion programme seeks to improve reportorial skills of selected journalists on maternal and child health issues, by exposing them to the works of four key civil society organizations working on maternal and child health-related projects in the country – The Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP), Plan International, Community Health Research Initiative (CHR), and SOGON.
The journalists are made to work with the CSOs for a period of six months with the hope they would be better exposed to practical activities aimed at improving maternal and child health in the country. Having been fortified with requisite knowledge within the immersion period, beneficiaries are expected, thereafter, to write better on the subject matter.
The project is financed by MacArthur Foundation, and one of the grantees, Development Communications Network, Devcoms, trains reporters for it in Lagos, Kaduna and Abuja.
Agboghoroma, a Chief Consultant Obstetrician, was speaking on the reason maternal and child health indices in the country had been appalling.
He noted that doctors (and other health workers) are willing to go to villages and other hard-to-reach communities if government is “ready to meet their minimum expectations.”
“There are many people today who are not employed. I can tell you, even among the obstetricians and gynaecologists, there are many of them who are ready to go to rural villages if government is ready to recruit them.
“Government has failed to recruit people. Government is not engaging. Health workers are all over the place: nurses, midwives are hanging around. In fact, we have more unemployed nurses and midwives in the society than those who are employed.
.“If government engages them, they will go. I’m not aware of the fact that government employs 100 nurses or obstetricians and one percent of them fail to report at their station. It is just assumed that people will not go.”
He emphasized that impression that care givers would not go to rural communities if they are posted is not true.
According to him, some state governments have not found it necessary to engage obstetrician and gynaecologists in their services. He said though Lagos State has the highest number, the disparity, he argued, is so obvious that it would be difficult for the country to achieve maternal and child deaths reduction. He said 99 percent of the gynaecologists and obstetricians in the states are located in the state capitals.
Agboghoroma explained that SOGON was taking different approaches, including rendering voluntary services, to ensure there is sustained reduction in the number of women and children who die in the country.
SOGON, he stressed, has mobilized its members by forming teams for the volunteering services. “We have agreed that we’ll be going to facilities that are far from our sites so that we can provide some volunteer services for the country. That programme, the government bought into it, and last year, it was launched by the Honourable Minister of Health…
“We are aware of the last two recent publications from the National Demographic and Health Survey that showed that Nigeria as a country must really do much if we must reduce maternal and child mortality. We still contribute far beyond expectation to the mortality among women globally. Whereas, we are just less than two percent, but we learnt that we contribute more than 40 percent of maternal death globally, which is actually a shame. Every time I represent my association and speak at international conferences, it is actually a shame seeing statistics, figures about this. I think we really need to do much. We really need to tell government and mobilize government to do more than what they are doing.
“Recently, we wanted government to showcase what they are doing. SOGON wrote to the Honourable Minister of Health and asked the minister to come out with a four-page publication that we want to carry in our documentary as to what role the Federal Government is playing in respect to maternal and reproductive health in Nigeria. We wanted it documented by themselves…
“After I showed the document, I challenged the government if this is all you say you are doing, you have not even started. There is no way you can impact on maternal and child health in this country. We were very surprised that that was what the government was doing so far,” he added.
Speaking at the event, Executive Director of AdvocacyNigeria, one of the CSOs, Hon. Saudatu Sani, said of the programme: “I really believe that a good and in-depth reporting from our collaborators in the media will definitely serve as a stimulus to government and the population to ensure that women health improves. Government will do nothing if we keep silent.
“What my organization will do is that this programme has raised my awareness on working with journalists, and now I have journalists that I will immerse into my programme. That particular journalist will understand the content of the issue I am talking about, will appreciate what we are advocating for.
“For instance, work on advocating increase in budget allocation, not only allocation, but budget releases. The journalist we are waiting for will help me to inform and tell the world that the states I am working with, Gombe, Adamawa and Zamfara are allocating money, they have released the money, and then, the government should use the money to address the issues of maternal mortality.
“Also, the journalist will now tell in my information package (he will provide for me) how I would reach out to communities. Because our focus now is more on community engagement, we are going to work with traditional institutions, religious institutions to make AdvocacyNigeria a household name.
“We are also trying to influence the men and the women to first make maternal health a right-based issue, not something that they should lobby for, it is something that they should demand for. Again, we should also try to get the men on board. I mean husband should see that it is a right of woman to carry her bag and go for antenatal rather than waiting for permission or allow herself to stay at home that it is too late.”