One in five Nigerian children will die before reaching his or her fifth birthday, according to Save the Children. Their mothers are also suffering – the country accounted for 14 percent of maternal deaths worldwide in 2010, according to the United Nations. But one governor says he is determined to reverse the tide on maternal and infant mortality with a new programme that offers free health care to mothers and children under five.
By our top partner allAfrica.com
Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko launched the Abiye ('safe motherhood') initiative in 2009. Its success – through the deployment of roving paramedics, opening new hospitals and slashing medical costs – has garnered acclaim from international organizations such as the World Bank.
At a media roundtable in Washington, D.C., on 17 January, allAfrica's Kyle Pienaar and Lauren Everitt caught up with Mimiko to learn why the governor chose to focus on maternal health, the challenges he faced along the way and his plans to meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.
You said that Nigeria accounts for an estimated 14 percent of maternal deaths worldwide. Why are conditions so bad for pregnant women in Nigeria?
It's a combination of many factors. It's lack of planning, lack of emphasis on the right priorities. The population is also a factor – we're 160 million. Where I come from, Ondo State, there are four million people. But leadership is also part of it. It's an issue of priorities, mainstreaming the right things.
But one thing that the MGDs have done for us is mainstream all of these critical areas like maternal health and infant health. You can see more resources are going into these areas. I'm sure that in the coming years we'll have better outcomes.
Do you think your state will reach Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which would mean reducing child mortality by 67 percent and maternal mortality by 75 percent by 2015?
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