Project Agbebi: A Fierce Fight Against Maternal Mortality
According to World Health Organization (WHO), the maternal mortality rate (MMR) from 2000-2017 shows a significant decline of 38%. However, the story of MMR is still a sad tale as approximately 810 women die every day from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes. The World Bank reports that Nigeria’s MMR for 2017 was 917 per 100,000 live births, only a 0.86% decline from 2016. Nigeria is indeed miles away from meeting the first target of the 3rd goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The target is to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.
Additionally, a study published in the JAMA Network Open reveals that during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a 33.3% increase in MMR. These numbers are alarming as more women are losing their lives to pregnancy and children-birth-related causes. Many researchers on the troubling issue have traced maternal mortality to obstetrics conditions and lack of proper health care during pregnancy and childbirth. In developing countries like Nigeria, access to emergency care is poor, especially in rural areas. This leaves pregnant women with no option but to use traditional birth attendants (TBAs), who may not have all the required skill set and equipment to handle childbirth.
To help reduce the alarming rates of maternal mortality, HACEY Health Initiative introduced Project Agbebi. The term agbebi is a Yoruba word which means “midwife”. This project is geared toward reducing MMR, focusing on the community and grassroots levels.
HACEY seeks to achieve its aim by partnering with and empowering Traditional Birth Attendants(TBAs) to aid safe delivery in rural areas. Through this project, 62,000 birthing kits have been provided to TBAs in 14 communities in Southwestern Nigeria. In addition, introducing evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions to TBAs and targeted training has improved traditional birthing methods in rural areas.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hacey held a Maternal Health Support Program with support from Access bank plc. The program aimed to promote maternal health by educating expectant mothers and TBAs on safe birthing practices during the pandemic. To hold firm the sensitization exercise, relief materials, hygiene and birthing kits were provided to 1,200 pregnant women and 10 Primary Healthcare Centers as well as TBAs. Community members were also sensitized on COVID-19 prevention and provided with palliative materials.
HACEY, through Project Agbebi, is contributing to safe motherhood and the decline of MMR in Nigeria and globally. To create a world where more women, even in remote parts of the world, will face pregnancy and childbirth without losing their lives.
By Glorious Kate Akpegah