How Church Organization is combating Maternal Mortality.
Maternal Mortality rate has been on a steady decline in the last decade though the numbers are dropping, there is still a very high death rate as expectant mothers live’s are still lost all over the world.
According to data sourced from World Health Organisation,UNICEF,World Bank and United Nations Development Fund Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) declined at 38% from 2000–2017.
Maternal Mortality ratio(maternal deaths per 100,000 live birth)
Source:World Health Organisation World Maternal Mortality Rate
Maternal mortality ratio(per 100,000 live birth)2017 in Nigeria.
Source:World Health Organisation Nigeria Maternal Mortality Rate
In Nigeria, we had 917 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017 although this is a level of progress, deaths could still be prevented when adequate measures are put in place.
According to Healthwatch, a non-profit organization that uses informed advocacy and communication to seek better health and access to healthcare in Nigeria“an estimated number of 58,000 Nigerian women die yearly from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, devastating families and communities and resulting in $1.5 billion (N903,000,000,000) in lost productivity”.
The Federal and different State Government have come up with different interventions to bridge the gap but the government facilities are much too few and far between in comparison to the birth rates.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria also introduced a basic midwifery training to ensure that skilled personnel are provided for midwifery services. There was also an in built one-year mandatory community service, the one-year mandatory community service is an intervention to make sure that the availability of midwives to provide maternal care in the communities is guaranteed and women are willing to access care at the health centre.
The number of government hospitals and maternity centers in Nigeria can not cope with the number of pregnant women who go to give birth in those government institutions.
Bridging this gap are different actors ,amongst who are social enterprises and faith based organisations.A faith organisation that has been consistent in its intervention is The Redeemed Christian Church of God .
The organisation has provided maternity centers in practically all the parishes of the church since it discovered the issue of maternal mortality.The church started this intervention as far back as 1956 through its founder Reverend Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi.
The Reverend popularly called “Baba Alakoso” had a weekly prayer meeting where different people came for prayers including those who were unable to conceive,those who were pregnant for safe delivery.Baba Alakoso noticed , that many of those who came particularly the expectant mothers could not afford to give birth in hospitals and as a result lost their lives .
The turning point was when a particular pregnant woman approached him, asking for assistance in settling her hospital bill for Antenatal checkup. He directed her to a hospital ,he usually sent people he assisted(he had a habit of sending people over there and settling their bills later)
Reverend Akindayomi went on with his business of evangelism and returned to his church later in the day but was surprised, to meet the same pregnant woman at the premises of the church.She had been turned down and the hospital refused to attend to her because of her lack of funds.
He decided that he had to find a solution to this issue, the conception of the maternity center originated and was birthed, the first maternity center was opened in 1956 ;the first staff was called Mama Fabian who served there till she retired, and is an octogenarian now.
The legacy has grown to over 257 centers found all over Nigeria,still growing.
Pastor Mrs Amono who is the National Coordinator of the Midwives an experienced midwife of over 30years had much more to say as she spoke with nostalgia of the old days and how in her early days she had to go looking for expectant women evangelising and telling them about the center.Amono has her office at the Redemption Camp maternity center and oversees the other centers in the South West and all over Nigeria with her team .
With her team Amono have helped in keeping this rate down in the Obafemi Owode Local Government Mowe where the center is has catered for countless women despite tribe, race,religion or other proclivities.
Pastor Amono states that the overall goal of the centers is to “Rescue lives for those who cannot afford healthcare” further stating that services in the centers are free including the Antenatal classes and training.The patient only need to pay for the drugs consumed if prescribed to them by the doctor in attendance.
These goal is achieved through the system put in place in all maternity centers,the advocate early referrals if the situation with the patient needs to be escalated to the hospital and this is of utmost importance to the centers .They ensure this is a priority by ensuring there is a doctor present on duty during every birth and that they have good relationship with hospitals within their vicinity particularly the teaching hospitals.Non compliance to this stance is not overlooked.
Mama Seun, a mother who gave birth there in the early days believes strongly that indeed the maternity center is indeed divinely orchestrated because she had a long and difficult labour and had gone to very high rated hospitals yet the baby had not come till she made up her mind and came to the maternity center.
“The midwives there took me in and immediately took me to the delivery room praying”she recounted and miraculously the baby came out.Her baby is close to 40 years old now and a mother herself now.
Another mother who used the maternity center testifies of how thorough the midwives' are especially from Ante and Post Natal classes conducted teaching in detail from personal hygiene to eating habits.
“Everything for free, we only pay if there a drugs that need to be administered to us and for card”she said and went on praying for them in Yoruba Language.
Amono said that the centers are primarily funded by the benevolence of the RCCG and generous donation of people. We run these centers by faith and there is is not any particular income generation model in place .
“Although our centers have spread across the country sustainability is still something we daily thrive to maintain .We also need more help and partners to provide the best care if medical equipments everything you see here is form either Daddy GO, Mummy GO or the church”she said
Pastor Amono shared that over 20,000 women have given birth in the Maternity Center between January 2021 till present .This numbers peak during special programmes of the mission where all services are provided free include operations like Caesarean Sections,gifts of clothing for the baby and mother and provisions given to those women who gave birth during those periods
Impact metrics is critical in validating this intervention and continuity of the centers which would include measuring and analysis of various parameters with data .Data collection in the centers need to updated with more modern methods so there could be standard reporting systems put in place as against the specialised form of reporting.
This story was supported by The West African Solution Journalism Hub