Spotlight: Ondo Abiye Project

February 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ondo State, three years ago had the highest maternal mortality rates in the southwest region of Nigeria. At the time, the landscape of the country was littered with mothers bleeding to their death and countless burials of little children. Olusegun Mimiko was elected and his government made the reduction of maternal mortality and child mortality its main goal.

As someone whose professional life is dedicated to the very same goal, I took notice of the Mimiko government’s activities and achievements. Nigeria currently has 10% of all maternal deaths in the entire world and only 2% of the world’s population is Nigerian. The high maternal mortality and child mortality rate in Nigeria are caused by three delays in seeking the simple procedures that saves the lives of countless women in the world. The first is the delay to recognize danger signs in the mother. If danger signs are recognized early, she must get to the health facility on time, transportation constraints usually stops her as Nigeria has virtually no emergency infrastructure. If she is able to recognize danger signs, and access transportation on time and gets to the health center, her ability to pay for services causes the third delay. Even when services are free there are many peripheral costs associated with the inefficient service delivery at government health centers. These were the major factors that led to that terrifying 10% of the world’s burden of maternal mortality in Nigeria.

The Abiye program was created to ameliorate Ondo State’s share of the burden. The different component of the pilot project was designed to solve all the delays with proven workable solutions. The first step was a baseline survey to better understand which delay leads to Ondo state’s high burden of maternal mortality. An interesting finding of the baseline survey shows that only 16% of those mothers who got antenatal services actually came back to deliver at the health center. That is, the majority of mothers in Ondo State were dying because of the first two delays; the delay in seeking health and the delay of getting to the health centers.

The Abiye Pilot in Ifedore Local Government Area was soon launched. The pilot had tree main interventions. It aimed to provide all pregnant mothers with prepaid mobile phone so they can connect with the new health rangers (doctors) for better recognition of danger signs to ameliorate the first delay. This was made possible by a public-private partnership between the Ondo State and a telecom company called Globacom. The second action was to hire fifty new doctors trained as health rangers responsible for twenty-four pregnant mothers. The health ranger closely monitors the mother from the day she registers for antenatal care up till the day she delivers. She is monitored, given general advice, and encouraged to deliver at the health center. The program also led to the building of a major health center, the Apex Mother and Child Hospital. Health services were made free for all pregnant mothers and under-5s across Ondo State. Finally, an ambulance that provides emergency transportation from the household to the health facility free of charge, which decreases the second delay of getting to the health center on time, and removes the transportation challenges.

The positive results of the Abiye Pilot Project were numerous. A 90% reduction in maternal mortality is especially note worthy. The result of the pilot meets and surpasses the state Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal mortality by 75%. Also, many thousand new users of the program were registered and finally more than two thousand healthy Ondo State citizens were ushered into the world free from harm. All these were possible by increasing the utilization of a newly efficient health services. This is simply remarkable.

The model of this project is even more innovative in public health policy in Nigeria. Generally, most governments simply implement massively expensive program without first testing and attempting to find out what the issues are. The Abiye idea was different in that a baseline was conducted and a pilot was implemented before scaling to all the other seventeen LGAs in the state. Abiye Plus introduces some changes based on the lessons learned during the Abiye Pilot Project. The changes are highlighted below.

Thirty-two new midwives were hired to augment the health workforce. A new model of service delivery was designed with two comprehensive health centers for complicated cases and four basic health centers in each ward that handles normal delivery. The four basic health centers are equipped with tricycle ambulances that move patients from rural areas to the comprehensive health center in case of emergencies. The community is encouraged to get involved in the program by monitoring and evaluating the health rangers’ performance. Although the cost of the Abiye Plus is extensive, the results are projected to be even bigger. As a citizen of Ondo State, I am simply proud of this project. It is wonderful to be able to write, for once, about an indigenous program created to save the lives of Nigerian mothers, and more importantly, a massively successful one.

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The Future of Africa

February 16, 2012 § Leave a comment


I LOVE this picture. This is the way to prosperity, protecting African mothers, helps protect the future of our continent.

Prevent HIV with Money

February 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Empowering young women is often a goal of most NGOs especially those working in the African context. It is important for the wellbeing of governments and developing economies for young women to be involved in this rebirth. An incredibly popular YouTube video argues that empowering girls is the secret ingredient to economic and human development; it is called the Girl Effect. The catchy title and the stylish way the idea is put forth is especially poignant.

The idea that girls are the center or secret ingredient to economic development is not far from the health sector in general. In fact, women have been shown to buy products that directly or indirectly leads to better health for the household they lead and many health programs have women as their central clients. A recent report, by the Economist, shows that economic empowerment of women and young girls serves to decrease the rate of HIV infection by almost half. This is amazing, that for between $1 and $10 for the families of young girls, half can cut HIV infection rate. This is simply mind-boggling. Read the report HERE. Jobs are the cure for many ailments including HIV.

Useful Global Health Links 2

February 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

1. The challenges of maternal health care in Northern Nigeria, A pictography. Via the Guardian.

2. Malaria is deadlier than we thought but our interventions are working. IHME Article.

3. Lead poisoning in Northern Nigeria. 400 children dead, and 1000 in danger.

4. Everything you wanted to know about the American health reform law and access to contraception in the US.

5. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),  at the Daily Show, explaining the American health act. 

Contraceptive Access Vs. Religious Freedom

February 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

We are arguing about whether women who do not agree with the church position, or who are often not even Catholic, should be denied health care coverage that everyone else gets because their employer has a religious objection to it. If so, what happens if an employer belongs to a religion that forbids certain types of blood transfusions? Or disapproves of any medical intervention to interfere with the working of God on the human body?”

 in the Times.



Broken Promises to the Worlds Mothers!

February 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

This short video from 2010 documents the plight of Malawian mothers who depend on development aid for health for their well-being.

It is especially sad and disconcerting given the recent cuts to the Global Fund. How many more countries will face this horror in coming years? How many mothers will die with recent cuts? How many more people will the world lose to the horrors of HIV/AIDs in countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Sudan, Bangladesh and Bolivia?

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