The Wife of former President of the Senate, Mrs Toyin Saraki, and Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, a Non-Governmental Organisation has stressed the need for governments and spirited Nigerians to focus on targeted investments in nursing and midwifery.
Saraki made the call at a workshop organised for nurses and midwives on Monday, in Abuja with the theme: “Understanding the Challenges and Gaps in Oncology Nursing, Mental Health Nursing and Midwifery Education in Nigeria”.
She said reductions in neonatal mortality had lagged behind those of maternal, infant and child mortality, due to less attention and investment.
“We are gathered here today with a new and special focus, to highlight and advocate for targeted investments in nursing and midwifery and create a roadmap to close the gap in cancer care.
“For every two seconds, a new case of cancer is diagnosed. This means in every second, that nearly 100 people have already been diagnosed with a disease that is absolutely life changing.
“The highest incidence of maternal and perinatal mortality occurs around the time of birth with the majority of deaths occurring within the first 24 hours after birth.
“We don’t need to be reminded that Nigeria’s revolutionary Midwives Services Scheme (MSS) which commenced in 2009, was the key factor that helped to make some achievement in the country.
“The scheme was to meet gaps in skilled birth attendants and help to reduce maternal mortality ratio by as much as 40 per cent.
“Though with regional variations across the country, according to the World Bank, the World Health Organization, UNFPA and UNICEF, “she said.
Saraki said that the country had the knowledge and tools to prevent at least two-thirds of the deaths.
She said the country must advocate strengthening and investing in professional care during labour, birth, the first day and week of life.
She said further that governments needed to invest in frontline staff, and must invest in midwives.
According to her, her foundation is with a clear mission for structured philanthropy, full of optimism to collaborate with strategic partners.
Saraki said that the primary aim of the foundation was to find the best practical solutions to reach national scale.
She said that Kwara had done a lot in the area of maternal health and midwifery health.
According to her, the state is uniquely innovated towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
She said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised the state as a routine community of practice – a perinatal births and deaths audit.
The Director of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Dr Morenike Afex-Okoh,in her own remark said that mental health was an integral part of health and wellbeing, as reflected in the definition of health.
Afex-Okoh sad that mental health included emotional psychological and social wellbeing.
According to her, it affects how a person thinks, feel and act, it also helps to determine how one handles issues related to others and make choices.
She said that in Nigeria, there were about 250 psychiatrists available for population of over 200 million people.
Afex-Okoh said that in Nigeria one in every four persons would suffer from one sort of mental illness in their life.
She said that the treatment gap in mental health in Nigeria was as high as 90 per cent and there were many reasons for it.
Afex-Okoh said that the country also needed to do a lot in the area of mental health.