The Immediate Past President, Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria, Prof. Oluwarotimi Akinola, has backed the N500 cash gift of the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, to pregnant women giving birth in primary healthcare centres in the state.
Akinola noted that giving pregnant women an incentive to encourage them to give birth in primary healthcare centres is not a bad idea.
The Abia State governor had while appearing on Channels TV’s morning show, Sunrise Daily on Wednesday disclosed that pregnant women who delivered in primary healthcare centres in the state will get a cash gift of N500 from the state
Ikpeazu disclosed further that the pregnant women will also get a delivery pack and not be charged for delivery.
Speaking on the live programme, Ikpeazu said, “Health is not a cheap thing and Abia state has keyed into the basic health insurance scheme for pregnant women. If you put to bed in any of our primary health care centres, they give you N500.
“Delivery is free, and they give you a delivery pack. That is something for the vulnerable members of the society but if you want a certain level of medical care, you should be able to pay until we get to the level where everyone can be insured under the health system.”
According to the Abia State health development plan, there are 501 public primary health centres in the state.
Akinola stated that anything that would help in improving the health indices of the state and the country is a welcome development, noting that the incentive would help in reducing the burden of maternal mortality in the country.
Akinola said that the governor is only focused on encouraging pregnant women to use professional health care systems instead of patronising traditional birth attendants where incidents of maternal mortality are high.
Akinola stated that this is not the first time a governor will be taking such a measure to help reduce maternal mortality, referencing a similar effort by a former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko.
“I remember that in Ondo State, Mimiko did a similar thing to attract pregnant women to come to clinics. Sometimes they were given food, sometimes they were monitored. The essence is to increase access to health.
“I am not an Abia state person, whatever thing the governor has said, it may be a political statement to encourage people to access health at a health facility rather than going to a traditional birth attendant where the mortality rate is high.
“Anything that is going to help in improving the health indices is not a bad idea to me. Anything that is going to help in making them have access to health is not a bad idea to me, anything that is going to help to reduce maternal mortality and ensure we are not talking about death at childbirth is not a bad idea.
“We have gotten to a state where we can provide health services to pregnant women. So, we must have an incentive that will make them come to where they can access health,” Akinola said.
Continuing, the former president of SOGON said, “I don’t think it’s about that N500. I think it is about making them come to the facility so that data can be collated and information can be gotten and all of that.
“I don’t see it as anything but how sustainable is it?” he asked “What is the total number of pregnant women that are coming to that pool? What is the mortality rate now? What is the mortality rate after a year?
“So, don’t let us throw it out as something that is not good, but let us look at what it’s going to produce in terms of increasing the efficiency and in terms of addressing the maternal mortality rate and the infant mortality rate.”
According to the Journal of Global Health Reporting, Nigeria and India shared 34 per cent of the global burden of maternal mortality.
The 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, however, revealed that 61 per cent of live births do not take place in a health facility in the country.
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