Mary Abraham, a primary school teacher from Mosogar, in Ethiope West local government of Delta State, has more than enough reasons to be thankful.
The 28-year-old mother expecting her fourth child soon, was saved by providence in 2012 when she went for antenatal care at the health centre in her community while expecting her first child. The nurses attending to her had asked for her delivery kit and turned her back when it was discovered she had none. Meanwhile, Mary’s due date was days away and she had no means of raising money to buy her delivery kit.
She was still lamenting her fate at home when a neighbour informed her that Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc. was carrying out a programme on Safe Motherhood a short distance away at the community hall not far from the health centre. Her neighbor told her that bags containing all items needed for child delivery were being distributed.
Mary quickly flagged down a motorcycle, popularly called Okada, and was ferried to the venue and lo. When it got to her turn, she received a delivery kit free of charge.
Last month, four years after her first encounter with Seplat, she heard an announcement that the same programme was to be held in her community, this time at the health centre. She rallied other teachers, took time off from work and after the programme proudly displayed her delivery kit which was neatly packed in what has been customized and called the Seplat Safe Motherhood bag.
This pregnancy is her fourth in as many years and perhaps her greatest joy as she tells the crowd of expectant and new mothers is that she will definitely not be returning to the maternity ward next year as she now knows what to do.
Mary is one out of over 4,800 expectant and nursing mothers who benefited recently from the SEPLAT Safe Motherhood programme which took place in Delta and Edo states. According to statistics from the Federal Ministry of Health, the probability of a woman dying from pregnancy and/or childbirth is 1 in 13 in Nigeria.
Although many of these deaths are preventable, the coverage and quality of health care services continue to fail women and children.
Presently, less than 20 per cent of health facilities offer emergency obstetric care and only 35 per cent of deliveries are attended by skilled birth attendants.
Determined to help arrest the high maternal mortality rate in the country, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, in 2012, launched the SEPLAT Safe Motherhood Programme, a health initiative which aims to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates in alignment with Goal 3 of the Millennium Development, which focuses on providing key maternal and child health interventions while revitalizing primary health care centres. SEPLAT has run the programme in its operating communities in Delta and Edo states since inception, impacting a total of 13,769 women and vaccinating 1,500 children.
The General Manager, External Affairs & Communications of SEPLAT, Dr. Chioma Nwachukwu, said the objective of the SEPLAT Safe Motherhood scheme is to promote safe delivery for pregnant women and young mothers in the company’s operating communities, adding that every woman deserves a safe birth experience.
She said that the programme is in alignment with SEPLAT’s values of safety (safety of life and property) and partnership with its host communities.
She added further that this year’s theme of Child Spacing will help reduce maternal mortality and morbidity and boost maternal survival rates while also improving the quality of life as the mother will have more time for both herself and the baby.
This year, SEPLAT ran the programme for a two-week period from nine centres to cover about 80 of its operational communities in collaboration with the Delta state chapter of the Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN) and the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria to educate expectant and young mothers about pregnancy, danger signs, delivery and care of the child as well as the benefits of child spacing.
Adequate child spacing promotes higher survival rate of children, healthier children and mothers, better bonding of infant and mother, enhances parents’ ability to care for their children and thereby facilitate a better and more fulfilling quality of life.
Additionally, SEPLAT encouraged pregnant women at the programme to adopt safe birth practices, visit the clinics periodically and seek the opinion of medical personnel when necessary. The company also provided them with insecticide treated nets for the prevention of Malaria while also distributing vitamin and mineral supplements.
At the end of it all, women, who have been a little too prolific in procreating and those who are expecting for the first time, like Mary Abraham, after understanding the methods and benefits of child spacing could say, “I now know what to do”, having attended Seplat’s Safe Motherhood programme. – Vanguard