One of the biggest issues in the Nigerian Health sector is the alarmingly high maternal and new born mortality rate, With Nigeria having the worse indices in sub-Saharan Africa. The picture in many states of the Federation is same. However, Cross River state has decided to take the bull by the horn to reduce these preventable deaths there by deploying useful bottom-up approach to saving lives. This Was the clear message from the Honorable Commissioner for Health Dr Betta Edu as she launched the “Every newborn action Plan” aimed at reducing newborn mortality in the state.
Dr Edu said the goal is to strategically reduce by 50% within the next year the number of newborn death in the state. “ like Governor Ben Ayade’s proactive leadership style is, we will not just launch a policy and go to sleep, or leave the books on the shelve, we will match words with actions, that is why we have purchased and handed over several incubators and phototherapy Machines to General hospitals in the state. This can be used in the management of prematured babies or neonatal Jaundice, most general Hospitals didn’t have phototherapy machines or incubators which led to the death of many of these premature babies and babies suffering from neonatal Jaundice; further increasing the Newborn Mortality figures. We are happy that we are able to improve on quality of care and bring solutions to the system. Our health workers will be trained on Newborn Care as we work together to improve child survival rate in the state. Furthermore, The enrollment of Cross Riverians and implementation of the state Health Insurance Scheme will further protect newborns as pregnant women and under fives will be covered for free under the scheme.
The DG PHCDA, Dr Janet Ekpeyong also gave strong commitment to full implementation of the Newborn Action plan in the state. Noting that the Health workers at Primary level will be mobilized and trained to improve on newborn care, while referring patients that might need more specialized care like premature or jaundiced babies to the General Hospital. In the same vein, Dr Ushie SA Health and the Special assistant on health promised to work assiduously with the ministry to achieve set targets.
The policy plan which has contributions and review by Prof Mabel Ekott, Chairman of SOGON CRS, Dr Emmanuel Adams, CRS Pediatric committee, congratulated the state for taking the first step in the right direction which is to get a plan! The however called on the state to speed up full implementation of this great plan to save lives of newborns in the state.
The Medical Superintendent of the General Hospital Calabar Dr Kumah thanked the state for the speedy transformation happening in the health sector. He said in addition to the upgrade happening across several General Hospitals in the state, the state has procured equipment that will improve the quality of care offered. “ with the environments the State Ministry of Health are creating, health workers are motivated to do better” He noted that the hospital didn’t have a functional Incubator before now, this will change the game for us in newborn care across the General hospitals”
Others who contributed were UNICEF, World Health Organizations, Bar. Takon Asu, PS, SMOH, Chairman of Private Hospital Practitioners, IPPS; Dr Joseph Bassey, Dr Iwara Iwara, PHC Directors, pediatricians and other specialists; promising their total support to build a more resilient health system in the state.