The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on Tuesday, said the Federal Government is planning to reduce hospital bills in public hospitals.
According to the minister, the plan is part of the various measures being considered to drastically bring down high maternal mortality rate in the country.
Prof. Adewole, who was speaking while inaugurating a task force on “Accelerated Reduction of Mortality” in the country in Abuja, gave some of the measures to include reduction of hospital bills in public hospitals, and re-introduction of conditional cash transfer for women who access health facilities for ante-natal.
Besides, he said the Federal Government is also working towards improving on human resources and public health infrastructures across the country.
With the efforts of the task force, the minister said the government would ensured that high mortalities of mothers in six states where the committee would work are reduced; adding that many women do not access health facilities because they cannot afford the bills.
The task force team was made up representatives of governmental and non-governmental organisations working on maternal health.
While directing the committee to come up with working plan within three months, he said “we need to look at some ingenuous ways to bring women to the hospitals.”
He said Federal Government chose Kaduna and Oyo states as states that had done well in improving health of their people, and as models for others states and the committee to learn from.
He pointed out that globally, maternal mortality had been decreasing, but Nigeria had performed very poor compared to current trends among nations.
He vowed that Federal Government would adopt every possible measure that would ensure the country move out of 50 nations with poor statistics on maternal mortality soon.
However, he expressed worry that going by its gross domestic products (GDP) the country “is the least spender on health” globally.
Presently Nigeria occupies 10th position among nations with highest maternal mortality worldwide.
Adewole said it is a shame that Nigeria perform badly compares with small countries in Africa on health matters, adding that more should be done to ensure mothers who give lives should not die.
He stated that the Federal Government’s expectation was that Nigeria’s current maternal death of 576/100,000 lives crashes to two digits in few years. “In 2018, we want to see it (maternal death) below 300,” he stated.
He listed the reasons women die to include haemorrhage, infection, eclampsia, unsafe abortion, obstructed labour among others.
Besides, he said socio-cultural factors such as illiteracy, poverty, forced marriage, child marriage among others cause women’s death.
“As we tackle poverty, as we address some of the socio-cultural challenges, we are addressing the problem of the maternal mortality,” the minister furthered.
According to him, Nigeria contributes two per cent to global population, but presents 14 per cent to global maternal deaths.
A member of the committee, founder and president, Association for Family and Reproductive Health, Prof. Oladapo Ladipo, said despite the poor health indices for women in Nigeria, the country had taken some leading roles in promoting health of women on the continent, including making family planning commodities available freely in public hospitals.