The federal government in collaboration with the Coca Cola company and Medshare International on Friday launched the $10.8m “Safe Birth Initiative” program to control the maternal mortality rate in Nigeria. According to Coca-Cola Nigeria Plc, the Safe Birth Initiative, which aims to support the attainment of the SDG targets on maternal and newborn deaths reduction, will focus on strengthening the capacity of selected public hospitals through procurement of vital maternal and neonatal medical equipment and supplies; training biomedical engineering technicians to improve equipment maintenance and uptime; and reactivating a large stock of abandoned medical equipment wasting away in public hospitals.
Peter Njonjo, the President, Coca-Cola West Africa, said this at the inauguration of the partnership under the Safe Birth Initiative on Friday in Abuja. Ojonjo expressed concern over increased rate of deaths associated with childbirths. He said that 80 per cent of infant and maternal mortality in Nigeria were preventable if all stakeholders contributed their quota to minimise the trend.
He said that the issue of safe birth resonated around well-being of women, adding that Coca-Cola had commitment to women considering the fact that they were pillars of the society. He said: “As Coca-Cola, we have chosen to join in the fight against maternal and infant mortality so that our mothers and babies can come home alive after birth. “Working with the Federal Ministry of Health and the OSSAP-SDGs as well as MedShare International, we developed the safe birth initiative where government, private sector and the civil society come together to tackle issues. “We recognise that there are many factors responsible for the high maternal and infant mortality and this will require different skills and levels of intervention. We want to support our doctors, midwives and nurses who battle against great odds in public hospitals to manage life threatening complications affecting mothers and newborns. He said that Safe Birth Initiative had been structured to help address the inadequacy of vital lifesaving equipment in public hospitals. Njonjo said that the initiative would focus on the procurement of facilities and the training of biomedical engineers and technicians.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, noted, “We must reduce maternal mortality. Our women are not disposable – when a woman dies, the baby is likely to die and the communities suffer. We must have the right indicators and solutions to address the issues. We are currently working with states in the country to gather and understand the data and improving facilities to ensure people have a place to deliver.” The minister pointed out that the relationship with Coca-Cola was part of efforts at improvement; and called on other private sector players to join Coca-Cola in building partnerships like this.
In her remark, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, commended Coca-Cola and other stakeholders for the partnership. She said that the initiative was to support the efforts of the Federal Government to reduce infant and maternal mortality in the country.