Why infant and maternal mortality remains high in Niger – Sani-Bello

By Tina George, Minna

Niger state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, says culture, lack of medical equipment and insufficient health workers, remain the reasons for the high indices of infant and maternal mortality in the state. 

He said that many people, despite living in the 21st century, still believe that giving birth at home is the best option. 

Speaking while inspecting and inaugurating 174 solar direct drive refrigerators, worth over N1 billion in Minna, the Governor said people in the rural areas were usually discouraged with the lack of equipment and insufficient doctors in the health centers, thus their reluctance to patronize the health centers. 

“Part of the reason for this high indices is because of our culture. I know that there are still people who do not want to go to the hospital, they still give birth at home.

“Sometimes, you do not blame these people for not going to these health centers because if they do, there is usually no equipment neither would you see any doctor or nurse. 

“So they see it as a waste of time especially as they have to use two to three hours on bikes and there is no point in traveling two hours on a motorcycle and when you get to the health center, you will not see any staff. 

“This is why I have approved the training and recruitment of more staff, we will employ more staff so that we will bit have to overwork the few doctors and nurses we have”, he explained. 

Bello then tasked the Ministry of Health and health workers to work towards reducing the indices, adding that he is uncomfortable with the high indices of maternal and infant mortality rate in the state. 

“I hope in a not too distant future, we will try to work on our infant and mother mortality rate which is still too high as far as I am concerned.”

He also advocated for high-level sensitization of the people in the rural areas through the use of ward committees. 

“You need to work on the Ward Committees to sensitize the people in their various wards in the need for them to go to the primary healthcare centers.”.

The Governor appreciated the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) and Bills and Melinda Gates Foundation, for their response towards improving health care in Niger state. 

In his address, the Executive Director of the Niger state Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Ibrahim Santana, said the state received the first batch of 174 Solar Direct Vaccine Refrigerators and Ice Park Freezer from GAVI and Bills and Melinda Gates Foundation, adding that the second batch of 46 would be received soon. 

According to him, the equipment, which have life span of 50 years, would be distributed to the 274 PHCs across the state and will strengthen routine immunization services.

Dangana said the equipment would boost immunization quality and quality provision in the state.