Friday, 16 November 2007

IMNCH endorsed by Nigerian Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Chief (Dr.) Abiola-Oshodi, 1st Vice President with Dr. (Sir) JOhn Okaro, President, SOGON.

FRIDAY November 16, 2007 BENIN, NIGERIA ----- Nigerian Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have formally thrown their weight behind the Federal government’s new initiative to effectively ameliorate the dismal state of the maternal and child care delivery in Nigeria. The initiate known as the Integrated Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (IMNCH) Strategies is being spearheaded by the federal ministry of health involves the reorganization and reorientation of the health system to ensure the delivery of a set of essential interventions which will provide a continuum of care for women, neonates and children. The IMNCH strategy is a holistic approach; it replaces the competing calls for mother or child.

Dr (Sir) John Okaro, President of the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Nigeria (SOGON) made this assertion, Thursday at the opening of the 41st Scientific Conference and AGM of the Society in Benin Nigeria. Dr Okaro was reacting to a speech made by Dr Moji Odeku, Director, Reproductive Health Unit at the Federal Ministry of Health Abuja.

In her speech, Dr Odeku said, the IMNCH represents the articulation of bold and new thinking on how to fast-track comprehensive action to turn around maternal and child health in the country. It pulls together in a practical continuum, an evidence-based maternal, newborn and child health framework for achieving Millennium Development Goals. Since maternal and neonatal mortality are often the result of a badly managed pregnancy and home delivery without a skilled birth attendant, the thousands of needless deaths would be prevented by implementing the integrated maternal, newborn and child health interventions.

She maintained that the new initiative would only be effective when bodies of medical professionals such as SOGON buy in into it and thus reduce the numerous parallel-running programmes on maternal and child healthcare. According to Odeku, IMNCH is a multisectoral approach which can only work when the different sectors acknowledge their roles and start implementing the responsibilities accruing to the roles.

She maintained that a sustained investment and a systematic phased gradation of essential IMNCH interventions, integrated in a continuum of care is required — when these interventions are in place the lives of many more mothers, infants and children will be saved. While commending the Edo State government for the new directive of tree treatment for pregnant women and children under five years, Odeku urged every state government to make adequate investment plans for the human resource and health facility in the areas under their jurisdiction so that the roll-out of IMNCH would yield lasting impact.

Responding, Dr. Okaro, asserted that maternal death, stillbirths and newborn deaths are strongly linked to deliveries which take place outside of health facilities, without properly trained birth attendants in attendance, or in health centres which are not equipped or staffed to handle emergency obstetric or neonate crises. He hoped that with the roll-out and implementation of the IMNCH strategy, the problems of not having skilled attendants, health centres without necessary facilities to deal with obstetric emergency and all the other problems that the members of the Society face in the discharge of their duties.

It is hoped that integrating maternal, newborn and child healthcare services will provide an opportunity for the health sector to eliminate unhelpful dichotomies (i.e. mother vs child, short term vs long term, skilled care vs community approaches, and intrapartum vs continuum of care) that stifle funding and lead to confusion and ultimately cost lives.

The SOGON Conference is a 4-day event with the main theme being Intersectorial collaboration for improving maternal and Neo-natal Health, while the Subthemes are Prevention of Cervical Cancer, Post-partum Haemorrhage.

*Reported by Nnenna Ike

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