MTN Foundation (MTNF), the Federal Ministry of Health and other relevant stakeholders Thursday pledged to work closely to tackle the twin blights of infant and maternal deaths ravaging mostly the rural parts of the country.
At the launch of the MTNF YellowHeart Initiative in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole said it was worrisome that neonatal deaths account for 32 per cent of all death of infant below five years old.
Adewole, who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs Osaremoma Clement Uwaifo also regretted that Nigeria records 814 deaths per 100,000 live births, while 831,100 babies are born prematurely in Nigeria.
He added that one in every three newborn are in the country are due to preterm birth complications, while 87,800 premature babies die every year in Nigeria.
The Minister described the MTNF YellowHeart Initiative as a laudable project with partners drawn from both private and public sector players, stressing that pilots schemes for provision of healthcare services will take place in select states across Nigeria.
“For the pilot phase of the YellowHeart will be holding in six States across Nigeria namely: Oyo, Ogun, Niger, Kaduna, Cross River and Abia States.
“Everyone can benefit from the project by visiting the selected hospitals to meet with the team of medical personnel. Mothers and aspiring mothers will learn about safer delivery and healthy mother and child care practices. The second phase will focus on States in the north like Sokoto, Kaduna, Zamfara, Yobe etc because they have higher infant, mother mortality rates”, he stated.
Also speaking at the launch of YellowHeart Inititive, the, Chairman MTN Foundation, Adelusi Adeluyi lamented the challenge of increasing rate of maternal and infant death remain a worrisome development that need to be tackled headlong.
He noted that hospitals, especially those in rural areas lack needed equipment and qualified personnel to handle child births are pregnant mothers.
“Imagine an anxious father holding his sleeping son close as he paces the room. He has dreamnt of having a baby girl with dimples for so long.
“Visualize an expectant mother with sweat on her brows as she as she labours. With all the expectation, you now get the birth of sorrow, rather than a promising tomorrow. This is what MTNF wants to help address.
“As a people, we must know that this cannot continue. We must recognize that this should change. The YellowHeart campaign is an urgent call to purposeful action. It is in working collaboratively, public, private and non-profit parties that we can improve the health and survival rate of women and children in our country.
“We stand with the Ministry of Health as they champion this project which will create the much-needed awareness for improving maternal and infant health in our nation”, he said.
Adeluyi regretted despite the seeming commitment of the government to tackle maternal and child deaths, the problem has persisted, even as he called for good education of communities to dismantle their ignorance and apathy to good healthcare.