By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
The Kaduna State Government on Wednesday commended Save The Children International (SCI) for supporting the state to improve the quality of newborn health services to reduce neonatal deaths.
The state’s Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Dr Paul Dogo gave the commendation in Kaduna, during End of Project Dissemination Meeting on Strengthening Newborn Care (SNBC) Project in Igabi Local Government Area (LGA).
Dogo said that due to the support of SCI and other development partners, infant mortality in the state has reduced from 115 per 1,000 live births in 2013 to 66 per 1,000 live births in 2017.
He equally commended SCI for improving the capacity of health workers of 34 health facilities in Igabi LGA to ensure quality newborn care service delivery with a view to improve the survival rate of infants.
The commissioner promised to scale up the SNBC project in all the 23 LGAs in the state, adding that 3,058 health workers would soon be employed to address the problem of manpower.
According to him, the recruitment, when concluded will enable Primary Health Care facilities provide 24-hour services across the state, adding that 191 PHC out of 255 across the state have been renovated.
Earlier, Mrs Grace James, SCI’s Newborn Health Coordinator, explained that the SNBC project, implemented between March 2016 and December 2018 was funded through global partnership with Johnson and Johnson.
James said that the goal was to reduce preventable newborn deaths in Kaduna state, as part of the Saving 100K Babies Global Initiative.
She said that the project provided direct support to Igabi LGA to improve newborn care services in 34 health facilities and improve referrals from Primary Health Care to General Hospitals.
“It was also designed to advocate for the adoption and implementation of national policies on newborn health interventions in Kaduna state.
“It hoped to strengthen planning, resource utilisation and mobilisation for newborn health implementation and improve delivery of quality newborn health services in Igabi LGA,” James said.
The coordinator said: “When we came in, we realised after a base-line survey that majority of health workers were not trained on ENCC, new born resuscitation, KMC or treatment with newborn with sepsis.
“We also found out that neonatal resuscitation was not practiced in majority of the health facilities due to lack of equipment, supplies and drugs.
“More so, most of the health facilities did not have the capacity to provide care for very small and premature babies.
“Similarly, recordkeeping in most of the health facilities was poor due to lack of health facility registers and other relevant data collection tools.”
She explained that to address some of the challenges, project improved the capacity of service providers; improve management of newborn and improve enabling environment t health facilities.
She said that SCI had so far trained 74 doctors, nurses and midwives, 118 community health extension workers on Essential Newborn Care Course.
She also said that six doctors and nurses were trained on management of sick newborn and 69 record officers and facility head on data management.
James said added that the programme has supported Kaduna State Government to incorporate newborn interventions in its policies, strategies and operational plans.
“We also supported the LGA to adopt Maternal and Child Survival Programme and developed Quality Improvement team to track newborn health care delivery across the supported facilities.
“To improve enabling environment, SCI has established resuscitation corners, sick newborn unit, hand washing point and supplied basic newborn care equipment.
“So far, the project has improved early initiation of breastfeeding within 30 minutes of birth to 95 per cent in the LGA within the project period.
“The percentage of newborns not breathing at birth that were resuscitated successfully also improved to 98 per cent within the project period.
“Also, the percentage of newborn babies who had chlorhexidine gel applied to the umbilical cord immediately after birth also improved to 97 per cent at the end of the project,” she added.
The Chairman of Igabi LGA, Alhaji Jabir Kamis, thanked SCI and the state government for all the efforts toward improving the quality newborn care and maternal health services in the state.
Hamis, who was represented by Mr habila Barem, Director, Primary Health Care in the LGA promised SCI to sustain the project for the good of newborn and parents in the LGA.