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Hope rises in Abia as Ikpeazu reshapes health sector, By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

By News Express on 20/05/2018

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There is every hope that Abia State’s strides in the health sector will be redoubled this year. The state is poised to reshape its comprehensive, integrated health-care delivery framework as well as secondary health-care centres, by ensuring that every local government area has a functional and better-staffed General Hospital, which will serve as outreach base to the primary health centres, and minimise the distance and stress involved in accessing tertiary hospitals.

Also, efforts are on the speed-lane to commission the state’s Specialist Hospital for Child and Maternal Care, which is designed to ensure that no child is lost at birth in Abia State from 2018.This specialist hospital deserves more emphasis because of its importance.

It is pertinent to note here that infant mortality rate, which is the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births is disturbing. Even developed countries are not spared in this, as infant mortality rate in the United States was 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015.

Abia has made robust efforts to ensure that this menace was put at bay. Last year, the state, through its Ministry of Health, the Nestle Nutrition Institute of Africa, the Nigeria Society of Neonatal Medicine, and Vicar Hope Foundation held a workshop which trained 100 primary health-care personnel in Abia State, on the skills of Helping Babies Breathe. The training enhanced the knowledge of participants; which will help to drastically reduce neonatal asphyxia and infant mortality in the state. The trainees included doctors, midwives, nurses and community health extension workers, drawn from private and government hospitals, and primary health-care centres, especially those in the rural areas where the need is greater. The training came on the heels of listing the state among six others to benefit in funding the reduction of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.

The training was apt because neonatal asphyxia – which is also known as perinatal asphyxia or birth asphyxia – is the medical condition resulting from deprivation of oxygen to a newborn infant that lasts long enough during the birth process to cause physical harm, usually to the brain. Medical experts define neonatal resuscitation as the intervention after a baby is born, to help it breathe and to help its heart beat. This is because some babies need help with establishing their air flow, breathing, or circulation. This intervention takes the form of helping them with airway, breathing, and circulation, also known as the ABCs. Recall that before a before a baby is born, the placenta provides oxygen and nutrition to the blood and removes carbon dioxide. After a baby is born, the lungs provide oxygen to the blood and remove carbon dioxide. The transition from using the placenta to using the lungs for gas exchange begins when the umbilical cord is clamped or tied off, and the baby has its first breath. Many babies go through this transition without intervention.

Besides, neonatal death (death of infant within the first 28 days of life), according to NDHS Report, 2003, in Nigeria is 48 per 1,000 live births. Almost half of infant death per annum results from poor maternal health and poor care at the time of delivery. The major causes of these deaths are asphyxia, preterm, sepsis, neonatal tetanus, congenital conditions, diarrhoea, among others. It is also noted that globally, about one quarter of all neonatal deaths are caused by birth asphyxia. Therefore, effective resuscitation at birth can prevent a large proportion of such deaths.

The Health-care Outreach to the aged and vulnerable groups in Abia, a novel programme, will be strengthened and positioned this year to touch more lives. The importance of this health-care outreach cannot be over-emphasised, because of the special place vulnerable groups occupy in our society. Vulnerable groups are, for some reasons, weak and vulnerable to human rights abuses. These groups are structurally discriminated against. And for this reason, the groups require special protection for the equal and effective enjoyment of their human rights. The groups are women/girls, children, refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless persons, national minorities, indigenous peoples, migrant workers, disabled persons, elderly persons, HIV positive persons and AIDS victims, among others.

Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, deserves commendation for keeping to his campaign promises of “providing effective and efficient health-care services to all Abia people, in every part of the state, and strengthening the 710 government-owned health-care centres by improving their infrastructure, funding and improving the quality of healthcare professionals deployed in them; and also partnering world-class health-care providers to train personnel and provide complementary infrastructure.” And he has not relented on his efforts in doing that.

Abia State’s strides in the health sector have attracted the attention of multi-nationals such as MTN. These strides include the upgrading of the School of Midwifery at Abiriba; School of Nursing, Aba, Umuahia and Amachara, which prompted their re-accreditation by the Midwifery and Nursing Council of Nigeria; approval of funds for the construction of four 100-bed general hospitals at Okeipke, Arochukwu and Obingwa; upgrading of Paediatrics, Radiology, Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Cardiotomography, Ophthalmology, Anesthesia departments of Abia State University; the proposed Super Tertiary Medical Facility at Obuaku, which is going to change the narrative in medical tourism; procurement of drugs to rural communities.

Others are the “Save One Million Lives” campaign, which targets one million under five children, and women within their child-bearing ages; establishment of tuberculosis reference laboratory for the entire South-East region at Amachara Specialist Hospital, 102 therapeutic centres, 42 microscopy centres, as well as two gene-experts machines in the state, for diagnosis in the treatment of tuberculosis. Establishment of state-of the-art Sickle Diagnosis and Treatment Centre through the instrumentality of Vicar Hope Foundation, the pet project of Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, wife of Abia State Governor deserves mention here. The importance of diagnosis and treatment centre cannot also be over- emphasised. It will offer a huge relief to sickle-cell patients by providing treatment at a susbsidised rate. According to reports, the disease has posed a serious concern to humankind, as millions of people around the world, including both adults and children suffer from it. The World Health Organisation (WHO) described it as a potentially fatal disease and one of the main causes of premature death among children under the age of five, in various African countries.

The disease, which is regarded as a major genetic disease in most countries in sub- Saharan Africa, is a genetic blood disorder that affects the haemoglobin within the red blood cells. The recurrent pain and complications caused by the disease can interfere with many aspects of the patient’s life, including education, employment and psycho-social development. The sickle-cell trait is now known to be widespread, reaching its highest prevalence in parts of Africa, as well as among people with origins in equatorial Africa, the Mediterranean basin and Saudi Arabia.

Okechukwu Ukegbu Keshi writes from Aba and can be reached via 


Source News Express

Posted 20/05/2018 07:52:57 AM


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