By: Madeline Taskier, Partnership Coordinator at Women Deliver
Bordered by Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and the Gulf of Guinea, the West African country of Nigeria is the eighth most populous country in the world with a soaring maternal mortality rate. As of 2008, the average maternal mortality rate was 840 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and up to 1,549 deaths per 100,000 live births in rural areas. These statistics gave the Nigerian government a stern wakeup call: too many women were dying during pregnancy and childbirth with a weak healthcare workforce to support them. In 2009, the Nigerian National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA) took action to expand women’s access to skilled health care workers in rural and suburban regions with the Midwives Services Scheme (MSS).
The objective of the program is to incrementally increase the number of midwives working in districts around Nigeria, particularly the rural districts. MSS addresses two of the “three delays” which raise maternal mortality: the delay in seeking care and the delay in receiving care from a healthcare provider. By bolstering the midwife health workforce in Nigeria, pregnant women are more likely to seek care after they have frequent interactions with a midwife in the local community and they are more likely to receive the skilled care they need when reaching a healthcare facility.
Since its rollout in 2009, 2,488 midwives have been dispersed to 652 primary health care centers linked to 163 general hospitals in all 36 states of Nigeria. The program reaches a population of over 10,700,000 people, roughly 15 percent of the total population. Each midwife is trained in skilled birth techniques and is equipped with a ‘mama kit’—a series of tools such as a stethoscope, razor blade, essential medicines, weighing scales, blood pressure indicator and mobile registration system. The midwives also perform child immunizations for facility-based births and family planning services.
In 2011, NPHDA wishes to train an additional 2,000 midwives and send them to high-need rural areas. The program will continue to grow with the help of Galaxy Backbone ICT and their Mobile Application Data Exchange System (MADEX). Midwives in MSS will be able to update a national maternal morbidity, birth and immunization registry system from their cell phones. Through the Midwives Services Scheme, the Nigerian government is taking the initiative to strengthen their health workforce to prevent maternal death.
Watch the NPHDA’s video about the Midwives Services Scheme:
Check out the NPHCDA presentation at Countdown to 2015.
Photo via pjotter05