Speaking on New Approaches and Interventions for Reducing Maternal Mortality

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Pathfinder's Senior Technical Advisor for Best Practices and Community-Based Services Dr. Murtala Mai joined an expert panel today to speak on recent maternal health trends in Nigeria at "Maternal Health in Nigeria: Progress is Possible," an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. Here, he shares his perspective on the new intervention, called "Abiye." Dr. Mai is also Pathfinder's former Country Representative for Nigeria and currently works as a part of the Pathfinder-led Evidence to Action project.

As a public health practitioner originally from Nigeria, I was thrilled to be part of an event that showcased a promising maternal mortality reduction intervention in Nigeria called "Abiye." Abiye, meaning "safe motherhood" in Yoruba language, was spurred by Nigeria's 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey showing maternal mortality rates in Ondo State were the worst among the states of southwest Africa.

Abiye is an evidence-based intervention that has greatly contributed to the improvement of several health outcomes. One significant example is the increase in the number of women accessing antenatal care and skilled attendance at delivery through a comprehensive set of activities that addresses the four delays associated with maternal mortality.

Despite challenges, Abiye represents a good model of what is possible with political leadership, direction, and a focused investment on the needs of women and girls.The intervention is a work in progress and there still are potential challenges with its scalability and sustainability. Despite these challenges, Abiye represents a good model of what is possible with political leadership, direction, and a focused investment on the needs of women and girls.

There are potential opportunities to enhance impact by using the Abiye platform to strengthen family planning service delivery. This can be done by addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people and by leveraging national initiatives to support a community-based health insurance scheme.

Understandably, the attention of donors and the international community in the recent past has been focused mainly on northern Nigeria, a region that has the significantly worst health and social indices. However interventions, such as Abiye, need to be recognized for their potential for replication throughout Nigeria. Those who have implemented Abiye deserve recognition, encouragement, and support as they continue learning, sharing, and improving the initiative.

Read more about Pathfinder's maternal health work in Nigeria.

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