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Reps move to make ante-natal services free

By The Citizen
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The House of Representatives on Tuesday called on government at all levels to make qualitative ante-natal services free and accessible.

The lower chamber also urged the government to provide skilled health workers at primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities.

It also mandated its committee on Health Services to investigate the current status of the midwife scheme under the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency adopted by the Ministry of Health.

The call followed a motion by Rep. Aishatu Dukku(APC-Gombe) on the need to address high rate of maternal mortality in the country.

Moving the motion, Dikku expressed worry over claims that Nigeria was the next country after India with the highest maternal rate in the world.

She said that a report by the United Nation's International Children's Education Fund (UNICEF) indicated that Nigeria lost no fewer than 145 women of child-bearing age every day during pregnancies.

The lawmaker said that some of the cases were preventable, adding that the North-East and North-West regions accounted for the worst cases in maternal deaths.

'It is imperative to address this issue to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives and to do this the challenges faced by the health sector must be tackled,' she said.

In his contribution, Rep. Yusuf Buba (APC-Adamawa) noted that the responsibility of addressing maternal deaths should go beyond the Federal Government and called for its segmentation to other levels of government.

'Most of our primary health centres have been abandoned because health care givers do not want to go to the rural areas because of inaccessibility.

'It is important for us to realize that the responsibility of addressing this issue is too large for the Federal Government; it should be broken down to all levels of government.

'It should be brought down to constituencies as we all represent a constituency and these health centres fall under them.

'We can take up the responsibility as a matter of urgency, see to the running of these centres and ensure that they are adequately equipped and offer services that will save the lives of women,' Buba said.

Similarly, Rep. Henry Archibong (PDP-Akwa-Ibom) said that there were various factors that contributed to the preventable deaths, which he said, included lack of education, power, access roads and religion.

He also stated that most facilities were not close to the people and ought not to be so.

'So many women die every year due to the attitude of health workers. But, beyond that, there are other factors that contribute to this problem.

'There is low patronage due to lack of education on the need to commence ante-natal once women discover that they are pregnant.

'Illiteracy and ignorance is also another reason. They depend on traditional birth attendants who are not properly trained to handle complications.

'Then, there is the issue of churches; some of them dissuade their members from undergoing cesarean sessions and they end up with complications that could have been averted.

'This portends the need to extend awareness to churches and other religious bodies that undermine the health of expectant mothers,' he said.

After the debate on the motion, it was unanimously adopted by members. (NAN)