EmONC Saving Lives in Kwara State

Amy Oyekunle

CEO, Wellbeing Foundation Africa

“This training has saved so many lives here – it should be available across Nigeria.”

Dr. Oluwole Olusegun

As we gathered around the demonstration given by Dr. Oluwole Olusegun in the skills laboratory at the General Hospital in Ilorin, Kwara State, he proudly explained how the Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care (EmONC) training had transformed the capacity of doctors, nurses and midwives in Kwara to save the lives of women and newborn infants.

The laboratory had just been officially reopened by WBFA Founder-President, H.E. Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki, alongside partners who had joined forces with us to make this training possible - Joy Marini, Global Director of Community Impact at Johnson & Johnson and Dr. Hauwa Mohammed, Nigeria Country Lead at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.  Commissioning the lab was just one of the activities WBFA and partners conducted during the series of visits this week to EmONC and Mamacare programs, in order to hear first-hand why they have been so successful.

80% of all maternal deaths result from five complications which can be readily treated by qualified and trained health professionals: haemorrhage, sepsis, eclampsia, complications of abortion and obstructed labour. Our EmONC training takes place in-house and equips doctors, nurses and midwives, as a collective team, with the skills needed to overcome these obstetric emergencies. The demonstrations witnessed by the team in Kwara were wide-ranging and innovative – we were particularly impressed with the simple inexpensive and innovative use of a condom catheter balloon filled with saline to control postpartum haemorrhage, the excessive bleeding after birth which is the leading cause of maternal mortality and affects up to 5% of women.

This week’s demonstration of how successful Kwara state has been in embracing EmONC training was timely; coming only a week after UNICEF released its “Every Child Alive” report which analyzed newborn deaths worldwide. Of the ten highest-risk countries for newborn deaths, eight are in sub-Saharan Africa, and Nigeria accounted for 9% of all global infant deaths in 2016. It is worth repeating that key fact: 80% of these deaths are preventable. At the WBFA, we reaffirm UNICEF’s conclusion that a key solution is the recruitment, training, retention and management of sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with the competencies and skills needed to save newborn lives.

WBFA is grateful to our partners for helping us to bring this world-class training to Nigeria, and we agree with Dr. Oluwole Olusegun in Ilorin – it is high time it was available across the nation!

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