In NorthEast Nigeria, refurbished health facilities inspire ante-natal care uptake

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The project which aims to improve maternal, newborn and child health care and nutrition services in northern Nigeria, is supported by UNICEF with funds from the European Union.
Samuel Kaalu, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Nigeria

© UNICEF Nigeria/2019/Owoicho

Inside the labour room of the renovated Major Aminu Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC), Bashir Hassan looks affectionately at his newborn baby cuddled by his wife, Daima. Bashir had been keeping vigil through the night as Daima endured labour pains delivering their precious bundle. But happily on this drizzly morning, both his anxiety and her physical pain are over; mother and child have been discharged and the family is ready to go home.

When Daima initially found out she was pregnant, the first thing that came to her mind was where she would get ante natal care (ANC).

“I was looking for a clean clinic manned by amiable and trained health workers,” said Daima, 26, a business administration graduate. “This was my first pregnancy. I was excited I was going to be a mother and I wanted to do my ANC in a clinic where I would be taken good care of.”

Thankfully, Daima didn’t have to search for long, as she quickly discovered Major Aminu PHC, located in Dubeli ward, Yola north.

© UNICEF Nigeria/2019/Owoicho

Major Aminu PHC is one of scores of clinics that have been renovated by UNICEF with funds provided by the European Union. The project, called ‘Support to Strengthening Primary Health Care and Community Resilience for Improved Maternal, New-born, Child Health & Nutrition (MNCHN) Outcomes in Northern Nigeria’, covers the states of Adamawa, Bauchi and Kebbi. Its objective is to improve maternal, newborn and child health care and nutrition services in the project’s states of coverage.

Since its initial funding in 2017, the project has had a positive impact on primary healthcare services in its states of focus.

In Adamawa, it has provided means for the hiring of no fewer than 1,130 health workers in different service areas, and ensured that the state’s 226 Primary Health Care Centres are functional 24 hours a day, Additionally, under the project 140 PHCs are being refurbished and will receive vital equipment such as delivery beds, microscopes, baby dressing tables, mobile storage units and essential medicines.

“We commend UNICEF and EU for bringing positive development to the health sector in Adamawa State,” said Dr. Batulu Muhammad, Executive Chairman of Adamawa State Primary Health Care Development Agency. He was speaking during the handover of the renovated PHC back to the Adamawa State government. “Community members must maintain the facility for optimal health care delivery,” he added.

According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2017 report, only 37.5 per cent of deliveries in Nigeria take place at a health facility and only 43 per cent of women are attended to by skilled health personnel during birth. Following delivery, just 49 per cent of pregnant women attend ANC clinics for the recommended minimum four visits.

“The potential to improve on the statistics is huge with the progress being made under the EU-funded project,” Bhanu Pathak, UNICEF Chief of Field Office Bauchi, said during in a speech at the inauguration of the Major Aminu PHC.

“Thanks to the funds provided by the EU under this project, we’re committed to supporting Adamawa State implement interventions that will help the state attain the (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.”

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