The United States and the Nigerian government together with a leading digital industrial company, General Electric (GE) yesterday, March 3, launched an initiative to expand access to digital antenatal screenings to more than 2 million expectant mothers across the country by the year 2020.james-entwistle
Nigeria's minister of state Dr Osagie Ehanire and other officials at the launch
Nigeria’s minister of state Dr Osagie Ehanire, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Mohammed, GE chairman and chief executive officer, Jeffery Immelt and others at the launch
The initiative called Healthymagination Mother and Child Initiative (HIMACI) is primarily targeted at reducing maternal and infant deaths which Nigeria worryingly is the second largest contributor to the under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world.
Speaking on the design and implementation of the health initiative, GE healthcare manager on primary and referral care, Eastern and African growth markets, Ms. Tolu Disu said the $20 million initiative will help reduce the numbers of preventable pregnant women and neo-natal deaths by training midwives, nurses, and other health professionals in the use of the portable ultrasound (Vscan Access) screening tool to determine at-risk pregnancies.
U.S ambassador James Entwistle addressing the audience at the event
The HIMACI, Ms. Disu continued, has been designed to improve affordability, quality and efficiency and increase people’s access to healthcare facilities.
The minister of state for health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire was joined by the executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Ado Mohammed, U.S Ambassador James Entwistle and the GE chairman and chief executive officer, Jeffery Immelt at the unveiling of the important equipment.
Restating the commitment of the U.S to support Nigeria in critical areas especially in the health sector, Amb. Entwistle praised GE’s efforts to help reduce the death burden Nigeria adds to the statistics of preventable deaths of pregnant women.
“The U.S. government is committed to engaging in effective and innovative alliances with the private sector to support Nigeria’s critical development needs……We are proud to collaborate with GE to bring quality health services to millions of women and children in Nigeria,” he said.
GE’s portable ultrasound Vscan Access was lauched at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May 2015 to help front-line health workers in low-resource setting to help improve maternal health. The Healthymagination initiative will target 1300 midwives and other healthcare professionals with over 10,000 hours of free training over a period of three years in maternal and child healthcare. In addition, the GE will set up 700 centres across 6 geo-political zones including the federal capital territory.
Vscan Access screenings of expectant mothers will begin in June at participating primary care clinic and general hospitals after the commencement of a comprehensive training, mentoring, and grading in the field by qualified trainers and clinicians in May.
Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Wednesday, March 2, partnered with the Bauchi state government to improve education quality.
The USAID and Bauchi state introduced the Northern Education Initiative Plus, a five year program which will see USAID investing approximately $58 million to strengthen Bauchi state’s quality of education and also serve as a model for other state.