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REALIZING MDGS IN LAGOS

By NBF News
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In setting the Millennium Development Goal benchmark in 1990, representatives of 189 countries assembled at the United Nations to 'Share a Vision and Responsibility to Ensure Worldwide Economic and Social Development, Human Dignity And Equity' for which they agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015.

These include eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development. It was believed that the achievement of these targets would help make a measurable improvement in the life of the world's poorest citizens.

As the global countdown towards the MDG benchmark continues, and despite the reservation by critics of Nigeria meeting these set targets, it is encouraging that the Lagos State Government under the leadership of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola as part of its commitment to the lofty ideals of the UN's initiative had been making strenuous efforts towards the realization of the fourth and the fifth goals, which are aimed at reducing child mortality and improving maternal health by striving to accomplish as much as the expected three-quarter reduction in Child Mortality Ratio and Maternal Mortality Ratio by the year 2015. Simply put, this is to reduce the mortality ratio to as much as 30.3 per 1,000 live births as against Nigeria's current 100 per 1,000 live births, which is one of the highest in the world.

Mothers and Children are known to be the most vulnerable to the twin evil of poverty and under-development, leading them to sickness and death. In order to address this problem, the State government has continued to collaborate and partner with other global and national agencies to evolve means of ensuring that these endangered groups enjoy their right to life through improved healthcare services. One identifiable factor in safe delivery is improved access to medical facilities as well as skilled manpower.

In order to ensure improved access of women and children to quality facilities and skilled health workers, the government put in place additional Mother and Child Centers (MCC) in different locations across the state such as Ikorodu, Ifako-Ijaiye, Isolo, Gbaja-Surulere, Ajeromi, Alimosho, Amuwo-Odofin, and Ibeju-Lekki. Five of the centers have been commissioned and are already providing health care services to date while the three in Alimosho, Amuwo-Odofin and Ibeju-Lekki would be commissioned before the end of the year. Two others are also planned for Badagry and Epe.

These centres would serve as referral points to the existing Primary Health Centers (PHCs) dotted across the state for pregnant women and their children. With these MCCs and the PHCs, the continuum of care from the time the women get pregnant, through delivery, the post-delivery period, and care of the children from birth are assured. To further strengthen the PHCs, plan is afoot to improve on fifty-seven of the PHCs (flagship) to run 24-hour service across the state. This, no doubt would ease pressure on the secondary care units.

It is instructive to note that these MCCs are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, and staffed with skilled manpower to provide optimal patient care, which is commensurate with international practice and will go a long way to enhance the capacity of the state's health institutions to render the much-needed services in the area of mother and child care and adequately meet the health care requirements of the people of Lagos. When fully operational, these facilities will put the state on a strong footing towards fully achieving its target of more than four of the MDGs ahead of 2015, as promised, by the governor.

Each of the MCCs consists of four floors and has a 100-110 bed capacity designed as a determined response to the consequences of distance and access to health facilities, the absence of which, in the past, compounded the index profiles of maternal and infant mortality. It is also instructive to note that these are sited in Local Government areas with high maternal mortality rates.

The ground floor houses the general consulting clinics, including HIV/AIDS prevention and care, immunization, nutrition and family planning clinics, chemistry and hematology diagnostic laboratories and ultrasound room. There, is also a well-equipped and functional emergency unit for both pregnant women and children; some of this equipment include ventilators, Ultrasound machine, ECG (Electro cardiograph machine), monitors and defibrillators, with oxygen available in portable and centralized systems.

The First floor has labour rooms for delivery, theatre for caesarean sections and other obstetric and gynecologic emergencies, intensive care/recovery room, changing rooms, training and seminar rooms. Very adjustable delivery beds are available in special individual delivery suites for comforting labour. To achieve close monitoring of patient conditions, a patient monitor is attached to the anesthetic machine. Radiant warmer, infant incubator and phototherapy unit are provided for treating premature or delicate babies. There is also cardiotocography machine used for measuring heart rates of the baby in the womb and contractions of the womb during labour.

For instance, Ikorodu maternal and childcare centre care registered 20,652 pregnant women and conducted 2,733 deliveries. It also attended to 7,854 gynecology patients, performed 200 gynecology surgeries, and attended to 59,637 pediatric patients. Similarly, the Isolo maternal and child centre, over the 19-month period of operation, registered 23,347 pregnant women and conducted 2,778 deliveries. It also attended to 3,988 gynecology patients, performed 136 gynecology surgeries, and attended to 31,627 pediatric patients.

At Ifako Ijaye maternal and child centre, 12,609 pregnant women registered and 3,034 deliveries. With these positive signals from a few of the Maternal and Child Centres, the obvious determination on the part of the current administration to make some other ones available to the people in Epe and Badagry, the revitalization and operationalization of the 52 flagship PHCs, the complete refurbishment of Ayinke House, as well as the increased awareness among the people, it is certain that Lagos State is closer to its dream of realizing Goals 4 & 5 of the MDGs ahead of the 2015 benchmark.

Raji writes from Lagos.