The 2005 World Health Report entitled “Make Every Mother And Child Count”, had outlined the major causes of maternal death as severe bleeding/haemorrhage representing 25%, infections 13%, unsafe abortions 13%, eclampsia 12%, obstructed labour 8%, while other direct and indirect causes represent 8% and 20% respectively, indicating indirect causes as associated with severe malaria, anaemia, HIV/AIDS, and cardiovascular disease.
Experts also believe that over 90% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries (Nigeria inclusive), with Kebbi State ranked among the highest in the country.
The high incidence of maternal mortality in Kebbi State, arising from child birth has prompted the attention of the state government to take serious measures toward reducing the death of pregnant women during labour. Incidences of maternal deaths from child birth varies from region to region, with the eastern and western regions of Nigeria recording very low cases, while the Northern region especially in the north west where Kebbi is geographically located, is very high.
In order to check this threatening trend, successive governments as well as the existing administration led by Governor Saidu Dakingari of Kebbi State has often introduced various measures to reduce maternal mortality and also improve child survival expectancy.
The permanent secretary of the state ministry Alhaji Umar Jabbo, elaborated some of the interventions employed by the state government through the provision of free drugs to pregnant women and children below the age of five years under a programme called, Free Drug Service Scheme. Under this programme, pregnant women and children below the ages of five years are provided with basic items such as drugs and services required for safe delivery.
This, he said, “has become necessary in view of the abject poverty ravaging most rural areas”. Many families cannot afford the medical cost of their pregnant ones; hence they usually decide to take the necessary option of going to the hospital for child delivery; thus with the free drug service scheme in place, govt has brought succour to them.
Due to the alarming cases of complications arising from child birth in rural areas, which most often lead to deaths of the mothers and infants, a collaborative intervention between the state government and the federal government was also put in place .This intervention entails the posting of midwives to remote villages for assisting pregnant women to deliver safely before eventually sending them to hospital if the need arises.
Child malnutrition was also identified as one of the major causes of ill health and eventual death amongst children, especially those below the age of five in some local governments in Kebbi State. In view of this, the state government has recently launched malnutrition reduction programme called Community Management Of Acute Malnutrition objectively, to improve child nutritional requirements in some local governments in the state.
According to Alhaji Sani Argungu, a director in the ministry of health Kebbi State, the huge success was recorded by the scheme since inception in 2009. He said in 2009, the malnutrition incidence amongst children in Kebbi State stood at 6.5%, but recent survey conducted in 2011 indicated that the trend was drastically curtailed to 0.8%.
This intervention programme, targeted at saving child life in rural communities, covers 10 local governments in the state namely, Augie, Arewa, Bagudo, Argungu, Suru, Kalgo, Shanga, Sakaba, and Koko Besse
In a closely related measure, the permanent secretary also said the state ministry of health has intensified immunisation campaign programme against killer diseases, in which the state has also recorded tremendous success. The success recorded by the state in this direction attracted other states to Kebbi in order to copy from the programme.
An insider said that it is the concern of the present government for the healthy wellbeing of people, especially the pregnant and children, which informed the decision to construct 14 new hospitals across the state, with 150 partnership clinics between the MDG office of the presidency and the state government.
Equipments procured for the old 15 hospitals to make them more functional amounted to N850 million. He also explained that, Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital alone has benefitted from N350 million worth of equipment, while the newly constructed hospitals would consume about N1.93 billion worth of equipment.This is in addition to the ongoing construction of ultra modern hospital in Kalgo, which has since reached 90 percent completion stage.
Observers are however of the view that for the government to maintain the success record in reducing the deaths of pregnant women and children in Kebbi state, the programmes put in place must be sustained, and particularly so because most cases of maternal deaths arising from unsafe delivery largely comes from remote rural communities.
Of similar importance, government should also intensify effort in improving, or making available infrastructure like feeder roads and other basic facilities to rural communities in order to maintain a sustainable structure of the programme.