The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), the National Primary Health Care Development Agency of Nigeria (NPHCDA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and GE today marked the launch of the newHealthymagination Mother & Child Initiative (HMCI), a collaboration that is expected to expand access to antenatal screenings with Vscan Access, to more than 2 million expectant mothers across Nigeria to reduce preventable maternal and infant mortality.
The program aims to empower midwives with basic obstetric scans; mobilize mothers to seek four or more antenatal care (ANC) visits and improve clinical decision-making and pregnancy management. Addressing the lack of adequate human resources for providing skilled care in maternal and child health, HMCI will see the implementation of a comprehensive education program that will deliver over 100,000 hours of training over the next 3 years, supporting task-shifting for at least 1,300 midwives and antenatal primary health caregivers, initially focused on 6 states plus the Federal Capital Territory.
Dignitaries who witnessed the historic event include the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, The U.S Ambassador to Nigeria James Entwhistle, the Deputy Missions Director for USAID, Aler Grubbs and GE Nigeria Chief Operating Officer Ahmad Zakari.
Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of State for Health , said, initiative is in line with Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 and National Health Act 2014. He said the rehabilitation of the country’s more than 10,000 primary health care systems is a key priority for the Federal Ministry of Health and added that the new initiative with GE and USAID “is a major step forward in accelerating the development of maternal and infant care in Nigeria though the promotion of safe pregnancy, labor and post-natal care”.
On his part, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (MPHCDA) Dr. Ado Muhammad from NPHCDA said the NPHCDA was glad to be the implementer of the programme. He said more than 650 units of Vscan Access ultrasound diagnostic device will be deployed across primary healthcare clinics in the country. Over 2 million Nigerian mothers are expected to be reached in the short run.
USAID Nigeria Deputy Mission Director, Aler Grubbs stated, “In Nigeria, USAID’s focus is to promote and support stronger governance, financial and human development and to serve as partners in the creation and implementation of economic and civil strategies for the benefit of all Nigerians. This effort will further bolster the Government’s focus on expanding essential services in primary care.”
The U.S Ambassador to Nigeria James Entwhistle commended General Electric for putting the consortium together. He expressed delight at the innovative device and the fact that the public and private sector was coming together to partner in the interest of primary healthcare delivery in Nigeria
The Vscan Access, launched at the World Health Assembly in Geneva May 2015, is GE’s new ultrasound device designed for primary health care workers, including midwives, general practitioners, paramedics and clinical officers to assess pregnancy risks early and help expand the reach of quality care to mothers who need it most, providing imaging capabilities at the point-of-care with an immediate, non-invasive method to help visualize information about what is happening inside the body. The portable Vscan Access can easily be taken from room to room to be used in many clinical, hospital or primary care settings.
With the Vscan Access Education Program, caregivers at primary health centers will be able to conduct exams that may result in the early detection of potentially life-threatening pregnancy complications; estimate gestational age and track fetal growth to help manage pregnancies; guide the critical “keep or refer” decision over the course of antenatal care; and wirelessly transfer data to patients, referral facilities or remote experts.
Embracing a continuous learning approach, the comprehensive training program for midwives and antenatal primary health caregivers will get underway in May, followed by ongoing mentoring and grading in the field by qualified trainers and clinicians. With the gradual ramp up of the program, expectant mothers will begin to receive the Vscan Access screenings in June at participating primary care clinics and general hospitals.
Approximately one million Nigerian mothers and children die every year from preventable diseases; 33,000* women die from pregnancy-related issues and a further 946,000 children*, of which 241,000* are neonates. However, 70%* of these deaths can be prevented using existing health care packages.