The Coca-Cola Company has partnered the Federal Government to launch an initiative worth N4bn to address the country’s high infant mortality and maternal rates.
The initiative tagged ‘Safe Birth initiative’ (SBI), which is also done in conjunction with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Medshare International Inc, a non-Governmental organisation donated four units of 40’ foot shipping containers of life-saving medical equipment for the inaugural project to the National Hospital, Abuja.
Speaking during the unveiling of the initiative, Coca-Cola President, West Africa Business Unit, Mr Peter Njonjo, said, the organization chose to join the fight against maternal and newborn deaths, so that mothers and babies could come home alive from maternities.
He said that 80% of infant and maternal mortality in Nigeria were preventable if all stakeholders contributed their quota to minimise the trend. He noted that the issue of safe birth resonated around well-being of women, adding that Coca-Cola had commitment to women considering the fact that they were pillars of the society.
“Working with the Federal Ministry of Health and the OSSAP-SDGs as well as MedShare International, we developed the safe birth initiative where government, private sector and the civil society come together to tackle issues.
“We recognise that there are many factors responsible for the high maternal and infant mortality and this will require different skills and levels of intervention.
“We want to support our doctors, midwives and nurses who battle against great odds in public hospitals to manage life threatening complications affecting mothers and newborns.”
Njonjo said that Safe Birth Initiative had been structured to help address the inadequacy of vital lifesaving equipment in public hospitals, adding that the initiative would focus on the procurement of facilities and the training of biomedical engineers and technicians.
Consignments of medical equipment for Federal Medical Centres in Ebute-Metta and Owerri and the General Hospital, Alimosho, Lagos are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks while needs assessments are currently ongoing at other approved hospitals to determine their specific requirements.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, noted, “We must reduce maternal mortality. Our women are not disposable – when a woman dies, the baby is likely to die and the communities suffer.
“We must have the right indicators and solutions to address the issues. We are currently working with states in the country to gather and understand the data and improving facilities to ensure people have a place to deliver.”
The minister pointed out that the relationship with Coca-Cola was part of efforts at improvement, and called on other private sector players to join Coca-Cola in building partnerships like this.
According to the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS, 2013), Nigeria loses as many as 576 women per 100,000 childbirths and 37 newborn deaths per 1,000 live births, placing the country among the worst ratios for both maternal and newborn deaths globally.