BAUCHI, Nigeria — Two inexpensive lifesaving drugs are helping Sokoto and Bauchi, two states in North Western Nigeria, to prevent maternal and newborn deaths. Nigeria was found by Save The Children’s Report on the State of the World’s Mothers to be one of the worst places in the world to be a mother.
There is an average of 1,000 maternal deaths each year in Sokoto, which is about three per day. By studying the main causes of complications and deaths in deliveries, The Targeted States High Impact Project (TSHIP) has been able to better serve the women of their communities.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in three newborn deaths is caused by sepsis, an infection of the newborn’s umbilical cord.
By applying a gel called Chlorhexidine to the umbilical cord within the first hour of birth, infections can be avoided, which equates to lives being saved.
Another main cause of death during childbirth is women dying from excessive loss of blood. To prevent post-partum hemorrhage, women can take three Misoprostal tablets directly following birth to stop excessive bleeding and the intense pain that comes with it. These tablets have been tested, are inexpensive and are essential to reducing the amount of maternal deaths from loss of blood.
In barely four months, distribution of Misoprostal tablets reached over 20,000 women in the Sokoto state and Chlorhexidine gel to prevent infections reached over 20,000 newborns.
In the state of Sokoto, 95 percent of deliveries occur at home, and only 5.1 percent have skilled birth attendants present at the time of delivery. Because women are far from hospitals and often have no transportation, these drugs are vital in preventing maternal and newborn deaths.
TSHIP was launched in 2009 with the goal to improve response to basic health needs in Bauchi and Sokoto. This program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
By December of 2013, the Bauchi state was able to distribute the two lifesaving drugs to over 21,000 mothers and newborns with the help of 3,000 volunteers.
This state is an inspiration to others, as the Adamawa, Gombe, Kebbi and Yobe states have all set aside funds for programs similar to that of the Sokoto state program. In addition to this, Benu, Kano and Plateau states have submitted proposals to their governors.
“You can do a lot to address maternal health in your state today. And you can do so by seeing to it that funds are set aside to procure basic medicines like Chlorhexidine and Misoprostal and others because they are inexpensive and the impact is very, very high,” says Chief of Party, USAID/TSHIP, Dr. Nosa Orobaton.
Every person in the community benefits when maternal and newborn deaths are prevented. In the 21st century, women should be able to give birth safely, without dying from causes that can be avoided by the distribution of inexpensive medicines like Chlorhexidine and Misoprostal.
Sources: TSHIP, Youtube