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Universal Health Coverage: DEVCOM Calls For Urgent Implementation

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A non-profit organization, Development Communications (DEVCOMS) has called for urgent implementation of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as globally Nigeria is rated the fourth country with the worst maternal mortality ahead of Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad.

Addressing journalists in Lagos at a media roundtable discussion on Maternal and Newborn Child Health (MNCH), DEVCOMS Programme Consultant on Training and Communication, Mr Bolaji Adepegba, said Nigeria can avoid the needless deaths of mothers during child birth by implementing the UHC.

He said, “it is a call to action for Federal government to implement the UHC and as we know there is some form of Health insurance going on in Nigeria but that will not go round to cover all Nigerians.

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“Except government endorses the UHC, it is going to be difficult for women to remain alive whenever they want to give birth to children as well as ensure that these women can access these facilities at minimum or no cost.

“The whole process of health insurance is doable. We will not all be sick at the same time but we will all be paying periodically as part of our premium. So there is going to be a pool of resources to help those who will fall sick at those intervals. And when I fall sick, other people will take care of my health bills. That is the process. It is not rocket science. Everyone can pay as little as 100 naira every month and payment will also depend on the level of health care you seek.”

A documentary at the event showcased women with different sad experiences in accessing health care, as Adepegba added that such experiences is not what one would wish for a close relation.

However, the DEVCOMS consultant said there are challenges in accessing quality health in Nigeria and poverty is the main reason, stressing that, “people don’t have the resources to access some of these facilities. Ignorance is also an issue as people don’t know what to do.

“Bad governance is one of the challenge as government officials who are supposed to provide quality health care centres, often times don’t care. That is why in the documentary, we had to bring women who had had near fatal experiences and how they escaped death either by luck or providence.”

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Adepegba advised hospitals rejecting pregnant women at critical times like during labour, should change such attitude in order to reduce maternal mortality in the country.

Lending her voice, the Communication and Programme Officer for the group, Mrs Fausiat Balogun, said the documentary is an advocacy tool for women especially pregnant women.

She said it is tagged “NotagainCampaign” and targeted at women of childbearing age as well as advocating for the UHC to be implemented to provide quality health care to save women from dying while giving life.

Mrs Balogun said, “we identified that every 12 minute, Nigeria loses one woman to complications of pregnancy and child birth. So we produced a 30 minutes documentary to highlight the challenges that women are facing while pregnant and trying to give birth.”

She pointed that World Health Organization (WHO) states that 58,000 Nigeria women actually died from child birth complications in 2015, adding that if the situation has not improved till now, we can only imagine what the 2018 statistics would be.

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Similarly, the World Bank estimates, Nigeria’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is still as high as 821 per 100,000 live births. Worst still, of the 303,000 women that died globally due to complications of pregnancy and child births in 2015, 58,000 women died in Nigeria.

Health experts noted that while global maternal mortality dropped by about 43 percent since 1990, Nigeria still ranks highest among sub-Saharan African nations with high maternal deaths
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