Bayelsa State Governor, Honourable Seriake Dicksonon Tuesday presented a cheque of N1.2 billion to the state Ministry of Health and the Primary Healthcare Development Board, out of the N3 billion earmarked for the construction of health care facilities in each of the 105 political wards in the state, as part the government’s strategy to reduce infant and maternal mortality rate.
Speaking at the state’s first Maternal and Infant Mortality Summit and Launch of Safe Motherhood, Governor Dickson also announced a special Safe Maternity Allowance of N3, 000 monthly to every pregnant woman in the state for the duration of the pregnancy.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Francis Ottah Agbo said, the Governor also announced the release of N100 million to the Ministry of Health for the payment of the special allowances, in addition to the provision of free medication to all pregnant women in the state.
Governor Dickson, who directed the Ministry of Health and its medical team to ensure the completion of the building of health centres across the 105 wards by December, this year, stated that, the efforts are part of measures, towards promoting safe motherhood and called on community leaders, women, opinion leaders and other stakeholders to be part of the process of ensuring that no death of pregnant woman is recorded in Bayelsa.
His words: “Every pregnant woman living in Bayelsa is entitled to N3, 000, until delivery and it will be accessed upon registration for anti-natal programme at the nearest medical facility for safe delivery. This is to ensure that, the health team gives me information on the number of pregnant women in the state. I want a report on their delivery; that’s how serious we take this issue of infant and maternal mortality.
“In the event of any thing going wrong, I will give directive for a special coronary inquest, check the integrity and conduct of medical personnel involved or the traditional birth attendant responsible, so that I will know the consequences that will follow.”
Governor Dickson, who also announced that the Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme had saved N1.5 billion, urged the people to avail themselves of the health care services provided by the state government, just as former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had done.
According to him, Chief Obasanjo flew into the country from New York and Atlanta and didn’t do his health check there, but came to Bayelsa to examine his health in the state of the earth facilities we have built and he has done so successfully.
“While I thank Baba for enrolling in our Health Insurance Scheme and showcasing our health facilities that are second to none, the lesson here is that, it is important for all of us to do our routine health checks.”
Speaking as Chairman of the occasion, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo described the health facility in Bayelsa as superb and recommended them for all Nigerians and beyond to take advantage of the quality health services, rather than travelling abroad for medical attention.
Chief Obasanjo, who said he remains a partner and an advocate of Governor Dickson’s efforts in raising the standard in health care delivery in the state, he expressed hope that, successive administrations would maintain the standard.
“When I was here earlier this year, I saw the standard of facilities that could be used by all Nigerians, instead of going to the United Kingdom, Dubai, India for medical check-up. I had gone through all the medical checks; my head, eyes, mouth and I was told that my brain is clear, indicating that, my head is correct. And not only that, the services were superb and affordable.
“What people are going to UK and India for, it is here in Bayelsa State. If we have the facility that is of world standard, why should our pregnant women be dying? By the time you complete your tenure, Bayelsa will not be the same again. I am a witness and beneficiary of your health services and you are changing the face of Bayelsa on a daily basis. You have a partner and an advocate in me.
“It will be a shame, if Governor Dickson leaves office and you Bayelsans allow the standard to fall. So those of you who will take the mantle of responsibility, you must not fall below the set standard.”
In her speech, wife of the Governor, Dr. Rachael Dickson, who reiterated the need for pregnant women to be able to give birth safely, avowed that, with the huge investment by the government in the health sector, the infant and Maternal death rate in the state would be drastically reduced.
She expressed appreciation to Governor Dickson for building health centres in every ward, as well as prioritizing women’s affair with the appointment of about 400 women into various positions of trust in his administration, and called on them to take advantage of the free health care centres.
In a welcome address, the Commissioner for Health, Professor Ebitimitula Etebu said, the summit is apt, as it provides the opportunity for the government and all stakeholders to x-ray the core essence of healthcare providers, irrespective of designation or discipline.
He lamented the unwholesome practices by most Traditional Birth Attendants, TBAs, citing the World Health Organisation, WHO, statistics, which indicates that over 100 women die every day in the country, for causes related to child birth and maternal mortality measures.
Professor Etebu, who revealed that the maternal mortality ratio in the state is not better than what is obtainable at the national level, stressed that, the state government is disturbed and concerned about it, hence it opted to hold the summit with relevant stakeholders, traditional leaders, women, medical practitioners and traditional birth attendants participating.
Delivering the keynote address titled: “Management of Bleeding During Pregnancy, Labour”, Dr. Andrew Igbafe listed major causes of complications in pregnancy to include, excessive bleeding during pregnancy and after child birth, prolonged labour, unsafe abortion, harmful religious and traditional practices.
Dr Igbafe, however, called for zero tolerance for maternal and infant death in the state, girl-child education, enlightenment campaigns to every nook and cranny of the state, support from traditional rulers, elders, chiefs, medical practitioners and TBA’s among others to stem the tide of infant and maternal mortality.
Highpoint of the summit was the presentation of the cheques to the Ministry of Health by Governor Dickson, assisted by his wife, Dr. Rachel Dickson, the Chairman of the State Traditional Rulers, King Alfred Diete Spiff, Deputy Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament, Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay, President, National Council for Women Societies and Matron, African Women Leadership Organization, Chief Oprah Benson, among others.