Ensuring mothers and babies survive pregnancy and childbirth
Every day, around 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. In Nigeria alone, 109 women die each day. The country has the fourth highest maternal mortality ratio in Africa and infant deaths are strongly linked to the care their mothers receive.
MamaYe-E4A believes that maternal and newborn health can be substantially improved when government, civil society organizations, the media and healthcare professionals come together to review and make decisions based on evidence. They work to make pregnancy and childbirth safer by ensuring that the right information reaches the right people and by promoting best practices to improve maternal and newborn health. MamaYe-E4A uses evidence to engage policymakers in improving allocation of funds to the health sector; to increase provision and availability of essential medical supplies; and in establishing functional blood banks. This evidence is translated into a simple format scorecard displaying health sector performance and used by the State Led Accountability Mechanism to advocate for policy makers to make better decisions. The scorecards have been used in a number of ways such as tracking availability of drugs, use of family planning, and monitoring of maternal and perinatal deaths.
MamaYe-E4A also supports communities to encourage pregnant women to deliver in safe health facilities by training key community members as Super Activists. In each State where MamaYe-E4A works, a launch event takes place where community members pledge their commitment to save the life of a mother and/or a baby. These inspiring supporters are then trained to become Super Activists.
Mr Bolaji Seriki from Lagos State is one of them. As a Super Activist, he identified the reason pregnant women and mothers were not able to access healthcare services in his community, was the long distance separating patients from the closest healthcare provider. Bolaji responded by donating a part of his house to be used as a community health post, where nurses and community health workers could provide services for women and children in the area.
MamaYe Super Activists encourage pregnant women to utilize health facilities for antenatal care and delivery, instead of relying on traditional birth attendants; they also engage the public in making positive contributions, such as encouraging blood donations for pregnant women. Roughly 26% of maternal deaths that occur due to bleeding in sub-Saharan Africa are directly related to lack of availability of blood for transfusion. MamaYe super activists advocate for voluntary blood donation in order to increase access to safe blood and to raise awareness on its importance for the survival of pregnant women and newborns. A database of voluntary blood donors who have pledged to donate blood is kept in areas without functional blood banks.
These efforts, alongside the reforms made by State governments have made huge strides towards safer childbirth in Nigeria. MamaYe-E4A in Nigeria is part of a multi-country programme led across sub-Saharan Africa through a combination of evidence, action and accountability. By working together, MamaYe wants to ensure that maternal and newborn survival becomes a greater priority in the region.