The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent the sum of $6.7 million through the Society for Family Health during a two-year project in Gombe wherein 11 local government area were targeted to save 60,000 women and their children from pregnancy- related illness.

The senior programme officer, Child Health, of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Saul Morris, said that the project worked with 248 women who were community volunteers and trained by the Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) to counsel women on how to take care of themselves and their babes before and after pregnancies.

Speaking during a press conference to mark the end of the project last week, Mr Bright Ekweremadu, the managing director of Society for family Health, said that the project became necessary when the National Demographic Health survey 2008 revealed that only 17% of pregnant mothers deliver in health facility in Gombe State.

He said, “This implies that majority of the pregnant women deliver at home without the assistance of a skilled health care attendant. This practice has resulted in complications and needless deaths of mothers and new borns”.

He said the Society for Family Health through Population Services International (based in Washington DC) and Transaid (based in London) were contracted to manage the two year learning grant, supported with funds from Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

The SFH boss also added that a state government gave them a land to built a call centre wherein the volunteers could make calls freely and provide information to the public on health issues.

Another approach used was the collaboration with the Nigerian National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to train about 695 drivers who donated their time and vehicles to transport women and newborn in need of emergency care. The project also worked with 760 patent propriety medicine vendors to provide clean delivery kits for women during delivery, while 315 traditional birth attendants were trained on how to conduct clean and safe delivery, identify danger signs and refer women to hospitals when complications arises.

The programme, known as “Inganta Rayuwar Iyali,” a two year project began in November 2009 and ended in March 8 2012 and was aimed at reducing common causes of ill health and deaths among pregnant women and the new born through the use of different approaches.

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