By Isaac Olamikan
Edo State First Lady, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, at the weekend, flagged off the ‘Help Baby Survive’ initiative, aimed at reducing the incidence of maternal and child mortality in the state.
As part of the new campaign, the state government is training health personnel from all medical facilities in the state to equip them with specialised knowledge to tackle neonatal deaths.
The programme is being organised by the Edo State Government and the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA), in collaboration with the Edo First Lady’s ‘Make No Pikin Die’ initiative.
Declaring the programme open, Mrs Obaseki said Nigeria is second in terms of the high rate of child death or neonatal mortality in the world, after India, noting that the programme is to change the narrative.
She added, “These statistics and data have prompted me to commit to the fight against the scourge, starting from Edo State.”
Mrs Obaseki further noted, “The ANPA medical mission addressed indigent people in the state; those who can’t afford the care they deserve. The treatment is from world-class doctors from America and costs millions of naira.
The free medical mission is not for the politicians or rich people but for the poor as the value is unquantifiable.
“The focus is for the poor and we insisted it must be at the grassroots and three PHCs in Benin. The medical mission is a life changer for Edo people as the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration has put in place machinery to make Edo the new medical tourism destination.”
One of the facilitators of the training, Dr Chinyere Ayaoyu commended the state government for the programme, noting that the ‘help babies survive model’ is an evidence based programme that when enacted properly, will reduce neonatal mortality rate by 50 per cent.
“Helping babies to breathe includes essential care for every baby. We decided to include this programme to the ANPA week and work aggressively to address the issue and train the trainers who will train others to positively impact and address neonatal mortality rate in the state. We have brought experts on board that will help us impact and drastically reduce the incidence.”
On his part, the President of ANPA, Dr Christopher Okunseri said, “Life starts from childhood as we can’t just focus on adults alone but also include children. This is part of our strategic process.”