Credit: Options/Nigeria

Saving maternal, newborn and child lives, Nigeria

Reducing maternal, newborn and child deaths in Nigeria will make a significant contribution to achieving international health goals. Around 33,000 women die every year in Nigeria from pregnancy complications. Nearly one in six babies born this year will die before the age of five. Over 70 per cent of these deaths are preventable with investment in maternal and child health services.

The DFID-funded Maternal, Newborn and Child Health programme (MNCH2) is improving access to high quality maternal and newborn health care and routine immunisation to reduce maternal, newborn and child deaths. Options is working as part of the MNCH2 programme team (led by Palladium) to improve essential health care for pregnant women, newborns and children in six northern states: Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, Jigawa and Zamfara. The programme is training health workers, strengthening health planning and financing, and tackling drug supplies to improve the quality of services delivered. It is also raising awareness, providing emergency transport and improving referral systems to increase timely access to life-saving care.

Options is supporting the use of data on use of services to ensure that planning and decision-making by facilities and government staff respond to actual need. We are helping communities and civil society groups to access information on health services, and to use this information to demand better services when and where they are needed. Across the programme we are providing technical expertise to ensure that MNCH2 improves the quality of services – through training, lobbying for additional resources, better planning and resource management, and ensuring that staff and equipment are available at facility level, we are:

  • Supporting the expansion of Maternal Death Review Committees, ensuring lessons from maternal deaths prompt changes in health facility practices and improved service quality for other mothers.
  • Strengthening Facility Health Committees as forums for reviewing and improving facility management, involving communities in decision-making, and discussing service quality.
  • Gathering information on quality of care from patients and their communities, and presenting this in accessible formats such as scorecards. Insights from community scorecards are compared with the health facility staff’s own assessment of services, prompting discussion at Facility Health Committees.
  • Establishing robust state-level accountability mechanisms to track progress on health sector plans and budgets. We use this evidence to catalyse action to improve health outcomes. We are improving quality of care by ensuring the delivery of integrated RMNCH services in health facilities, focused on improving basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care services.

Project achievements

By 2019, this programme aims to increase skilled birth attendance from 19 to 45 per cent across the six northern states. The programme estimates that it will save the lives of 60,000 children, 42,000 newborns and 2,000 pregnant women in the six programme states. 

Quick facts

33,000 women die every year from pregnancy complications in northern Nigeria

The programme aims to increase skilled birth attendance from 19% to 45%

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