Mama no go die again, pikin no go die again, because I get yellow heart” was chorused by pregnant women and nursing mothers at the launch of the Yellow Heart Initiative by MTN Foundation in Ogun State recently. This collaboration with the leading telecommunications company is a part of the resolve of the Ogun State Government to put an end to infant and maternal mortality, beginning with the state and extending to the entire country.
The flag off of the initiative was graced by medical experts, representatives of Ogun State Government and other relevant healthcare agencies as they all resolved to take huge steps in tackling the menace of infant and maternal mortality in the state.
Participants at the event expressed their plights during delivery while nursing mothers also urged the government and relevant stakeholders to provide adequate health care facilities in the medical centres and also intensify efforts on the campaign against traditional child birth which is still on the increase.
Challenges facing mother and child highlighted at the event include from lack of adequate statistics and data base of maternal and child mortality, illiteracy, lack of implementation and sustainability of policies and ill-equipped health care centres.
In a bid to ensure the safety of mother and child in the state, the Yellow Heart Health Foundation expressed its readiness to join forces with the state government to reduce maternal and child mortality by increasing awareness in Nigeria. The foundation has also pledged to align with global efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals health targets.
Commenting on MTNF’s decision to support the Ogun State Government on this initiative, Director, MTN Foundation, Mr Dennis Okoro said that the foundation is sensitive to the plights of members of the community where it operates. “We are very sensitive to challenges within our society, which is why we go the extra mile to make the lives of people brighter. It is against this backdrop that the foundation has resolved to improve the state of healthcare, education and economic empowerment.”
“Ogun state is the first to benefit from the Yellow Heart Initiative but other states are bound to be included soon. We realise that most deaths of mothers and children in our communities can be prevented using existing knowledge and proven cost-effective interventions. This is why we hope to use the Yellow Heart initiative to address predominant issues such as attitude and cultural practice that hinder women and children from accessing healthcare services in the society,” he added.
Expressing the appreciation of the state government, the commissioner for Health, Ogun State, Dr Babatunde Ipaye, thanked the MTN Foundation for the Yellow Heart Initiative and other impactful projects, commissioned by the foundation in the state.
The commissioner for Health, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ogun State, Ministry of Health, Dr N.O Aigoro said that the partnership comes at a time when the state is taking serious steps to improve the healthcare sector.
“The Yellow Heart Initiative is especially commendable not only because it is a step in the right direction, but also because it aligns with what the state is doing to improve health care. In Ogun State, we have the Araya Scale-up (Community Based Health Insurance Scheme), which provides beneficiaries with a card that qualifies them to visit any of the designated Health Care Providers in their respective local councils and access free health care without paying a dime.
The free health treatment covers all manner of local endemic diseases that contend with the health of pregnant women, mothers and their children. Ante natal and post natal services are assured. They will equally not have to worry about payment for diagnostic test as this is also covered by the scheme.
This is why we are very grateful to MTN for this support and we are pledging our commitment to ensuring that the yellow heart initiative reaches as many people as possible in the state,” he concluded.
The brains behind the initiative, Mrs Lilian Odin, who is also the CEO of Audrey Park company, noted that the mission of the campaign is to sentisize women and ensure the safety of mothers and their children across Nigeria and beyond.
“I am so passionate about this initiative, because I was once a victim. This why the company is carrying my daughter’s name, who is four-years-old now. Though she came prematurely. It was a quiet challenging pregnancy and I could not get support in Nigeria. But the story changed when I traveled abroad. I am of the opinion that it should not be until when one travels abroad that one would get solution to one’s problem. This is why we have set up this initiative to save lives, especially mothers and children. Our main focus is that no mother should die while giving birth and we are going to spread this message across of Nigeria,” she added.
The MTN Foundation has partnered with the Ministry of Health on multiple projects related to this cause. This includes the maternal ward support project, which has facilitated the innovation of 24 maternal wards across the country and the Y’ello doctor project, which has seen mobile clinics supporting the medical needs of mother and children commissioned in six states.
After partnering with Ogun State, The Yellow Heart Initiative, which was launched in Abuja recently, will also spread to five other states including Oyo, Abia, kaduna, Niger and Cross-River.