(L-R) Mr. Clem Ugorji, Director, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola West Africa Business Unit; Dr. Bala Yusuf, Technical Director, Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs; Prof. Chinyere Ezeaka, Professor of Paediatrics, Lagos University Teaching Hospital Idi-Araba; Dr Adedamola Dada, Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta; and Mrs. Amaka Onyemelukwe, Head, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, during the Coca-Cola Stakeholders Parley on ‘Enabling Safe Births in Nigeria
(L-R) Mr. Clem Ugorji, Director, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola West Africa Business Unit; Dr. Bala Yusuf, Technical Director, Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs; Prof. Chinyere Ezeaka, Professor of Paediatrics, Lagos University Teaching Hospital Idi-Araba; Dr Adedamola Dada, Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta; and Mrs. Amaka Onyemelukwe, Head, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, during the Coca-Cola Stakeholders Parley on ‘Enabling Safe Births in Nigeria

By Vivian Ihechu

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has commended Coca Cola Nigeria’s Safe Birth Initiative (SBI), saying it is a laudable project toward achieving reduction in the country’s high maternal mortality indices.

Adewole, represented by Dr Adedamola Dada, Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Ebutte-Meta, Lagos, said this at a stakeholders workshop on Saturday in Lagos with theme: “Enabling Safe Birth in Nigeria’’.

The event was organised by the SBI sponsored by Coca-Cola, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals and an NGO, Medshare International Inc.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that according to the National Demography and Health Survey (NDHS, 2013), Nigeria loses as many as 576 women per 100,000 childbirths.

Also, the country records 37 newborn deaths per 1,000 live births, placing the country among the worst ratios for both maternal and newborn deaths globally.

Consequently, the Safe Birth Initiative aims to support the attainment of the SDG targets on maternal and newborn deaths reduction.

It focuses on strengthening the capacity of selected public hospitals through procurement of vital maternal and neonatal medical equipment and supplies.

It also focuses on training biomedical engineering technicians to improve equipment maintenance and uptime and reactivating a large stock of abandoned medical equipment wasting away in public hospitals.

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Adewole said: “We have always believed that our healthcare would improve with active collaboration and partnership from the private sector.

“The Safe Birth Initiative is a good example of such a partnership.

“Meticulous planning and identification of the needs of the beneficiary hospitals have been carried out with active involvement of partners and beneficiaries.

“We commend our partners on this programme, Coca-Cola, the SDG Office, Medshare International and the Engineering World Health, and use this opportunity to call on other private sector players to join us in this battle to free our nation from diseases and major challenges in maternal and childhood health,’’ he said.

Also, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, said that the Coca-Cola Safe Birth Initiative is working toward the third Sustainable Development Goal – Health and Wellbeing for all, including our mothers and our children.

Orelope-Adefulire, represented by Dr Bala Yusuf, said: “This partnership is a classic example of what we can do when we combine our expertise and resources in support of the 2030 SDG agenda.

“We hope this event will strengthen our resolve to continue to work together as policy makers, development practitioners, academics, but more importantly as concerned citizens, in support of the 2030 agenda of the sustainable development goals,’’ she said.

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In his remarks, Mr Clem Ugorji, the Public Affairs and Communications Director for Coca-Cola West Africa, shared highlights of the SBI rationale and implementation plan.

According to him, “In addition to completing the first batch of the biomedical engineering technicians training, the consignment of equipment and supplies required for the National Hospital, Abuja, has been fully delivered.

“The consignments for Federal Medical Centres in Ebute-Metta and Owerri and General Hospital, Alimosho, Lagos, are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks.

“The needs assessments are ongoing at six other approved hospitals to determine their specific needs,’’ he said.

Ugorji said that Coca-Cola’s commitment goes beyond donating equipment.

“Through the SBI, the company hopes to promote effective maintenance culture by empowering biomedical engineering technicians with the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to take responsibility for ensuring maximum uptime for the new equipment.

“It also aims to empower them on reactivation of abandoned biomedical equipment in the target hospitals.

“There is a limit to what our doctors and nurses can do with just their skills and passion, in the absence of the vital life-saving equipment required for effective diagnosis, testing and treatment,” Ugorji said.

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NAN reports that the workshop also marked the completion of the maiden SBI capacity training for 20 biomedical engineering technicians from 10 leading medical institutions across the country.

The institutions comprise university hospitals, federal medical centres and general hospitals.

The two-week training was conducted by US-based Engineering World Health (EWH) at the School of Biomedical Engineering, Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

The workshop also had a panel discussion session that shed light on the challenges of maternal and newborn healthcare in the country; the national SDG targets on maternal and child health.

It also discussed the measures government is taking to meet these targets, as well as how the SBI will support these measures.

The discussants included Prof. Chinyere Ezeaka, Past President, Nigerian Society of Neonatal Medicine, Dada, Bala and Ugorji.

Others present were Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Editor, Today’s Woman; Prof. Carmen Walker, Chief Operating Officer, Nigeria BMET Programme, Engineering World Health, and Mr Eben Amstrong, Director of Biomedical Engineering Training and Technical Service, Medshare International.

The official launch of the Safe Birth Initiative and inauguration of the first set of SBI equipment in the country would be performed by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, at the National Hospital in Abuja next week.