Former Provost, College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Prof. Vincent Iyawe, has admonished the federal government to increase the budget of health in Nigeria, to improve the healthcare of the citizens, especially the poor.
Prof. Iyawe made the statements at the 27th Annual LAPO Development Forum, with the theme: “Improving Access to Quality Maternal and Child Healthcare in Rural Communities: Issues and Perspectives,” held in Benin City.
He said women and children should be given a better healthcare. He disclosed that maternal and child health are vital components of healthy societies, economies and nations. He said government is the one responsible for the poor state of health in Nigeria.
“Maternal Child Health Care is the health service provided to mothers (women in their child bearing age) and their children. It targets all women in their reproductive age groups (mostly 15-49 years) and children especially those under the age of 5 years.
“Despite the fact that one of the major objectives of the WHO is to improve maternal child health care, women in the rural communities are still very vulnerable as they are faced with low access to health care and utilisation of maternal health care facilities where they are available.
“If this continues, it would be difficult to attain the milestone contained in the national health strategic plan as well as the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in this country.
“Successful maternal and child health interventions should be aimed at addressing these challenges which include access to and availability of health care, addressing the cost of health care, adequate infrastructure (transportation and electricity), and manpower.
“Information on health should get to the women and attitudes of women to health care must change. The key to successful programmes is political will (and commitment), accompanied by a steady source of funding, to support gender equality and maternal health.
“Steady sources of funding ensure the sustainability of programmes while political will ensures the sustainability of steady funding. Improving the education and socio-economic status of the populace are absolutely essential.
“Whatever, the policy put in place, ultimately the goal of quality care is to ensure that all women and newborns have skilled care and excellent service with perfect outcome (safe mother, safe birth and healthy baby).
“We do not have more time to waste as every minute we waste, leads to the death of another woman and/or a child during childbirth. Now is the time to act.
“Maternal and child health is of great concern because the group constitutes about 2/3 of the whole world population. In Nigeria, women in reproductive age make up 21percent; pregnant women, 4.5percent, children under 5 years, make up a highly significant percentage of the total population.
“Factors such as poverty, inequality, poor attitudes towards women and their health, cultural/traditional practices have been reported to influence the use of maternal and child care facilities in developing countries (UNICEF, 2008).
“Poverty has been identified as a major barrier to human development as it makes standard health care excessively expensive.
“The major result of poor maternal-child health is increased maternal-child morbidity and mortality funding is central to what now appears to be a timeless discussion on improving access to Health.
“While increasing the National Budget allocation for Health, Special mention with designated amount must be reserved for Maternal and Child Health. Free services for Maternal and Child Health care is the desired ultimate goal.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2015 reported that nearly 100% global maternal deaths occur in developing countries with more than half of these deaths occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria constituting 20percent.”