Following the 2018 Q1 USAID facility survey across the country where Cross River State emerged the best State with a massive 28% reduction in Maternal mortality rate, the State Government was invited along with the Ugandan and Zambian Ministeries of Health to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Global Health Policy Center in Washington DC, USA, for an experience sharing event.
The CSIS Global Health Policy Center hosted a public event to highlight lessons learned from the 5-year Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) initiative. The event featured a presentation of the outcomes of 5 years of SMGL programming followed by three high-level panel discussions that highlighted the successes and challenges of the innovative partnership.
SMGL is a 5-year initiative designed to rapidly reduce deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth through a coordinated approach that strengthens maternal health services in high-mortality settings implemented in Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia.
Jesca Nsungwa Sabiiti; Ag. Commissioner, Community Health, Ministry of Health, Uganda, Kennedy Malama; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Zambia, and Dr. Inyang Asibong; Commissioner for Health, Cross River State, Nigeria, all represented their countries during the experience sharing session.
During her presentation, Dr. Inyang Asibong noted that the initiative has recorded substantial successes since it’s expansion into the State in 2015. She pointed that a key contributor to the SMGL success in Nigeria is the linkage between the public, private and faith-based facilities, as well as Primary and Secondary facilities, which has led to stronger referral systems and improved working relationships between service providers in each sector.
“Institutional Maternal Mortality Ratio in the State has reduced by 28% since 2015, as the number of live births put to breast and kept warm within 30 minutes of birth has also increased by 179%, there’s an 11% increase in number of HIV-positive pregnant women who receive ARVs in between 2015 and 2018, and a 113% increase in number of women who received uterotonics in the third stage of labor between 2015 & 2018.”
SMGL was unique in the way it brought together partners across U.S. Government health programs and agencies, as well as external partners and host Governments to focus on a singular goal. SMGL strives to improve access to, demand for, and the quality of Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC), and also seeks to strengthen links to other essential services for women and children, including HIV prevention care, and treatment, and family planning.
These evidence-based SMGL interventions are focused primarily on the critical period of labor, delivery, and 48 hours postpartum, when most maternal deaths and about half of newborn deaths occur.