Towards improving maternal and newborn health in Africa, the Coca-Cola Company is set to launch a new program tagged, ‘The Safe Birth Initiative’ aimed at supporting the Ministries of Health in Nigeria and Ivory Coast to tackle the high incidence of maternal and infant mortalities in the two countries.
This was disclosed by the Coca-Cola Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) Group President, Brian Smith, during a courtesy visit to Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Ivory Coast.
The program, Smith noted, will focus on strengthening the capacity of maternity and neo-natal units in selected public hospitals in Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
“With US$2 million grant from Coca-Cola to Medshare International Inc., the US-based non-for-profit organisation will source essential equipment, kits and supplies worth about US$20 million to enable safe deliveries and post-delivery emergency care for both mothers and their newborns”, he said.
Smith further said the program will also include the training of biomedical technicians and other appropriate hospital personnel by Medshare International on the operation,
repair and maintenance of the donated equipment as well as the reactivation of a huge stock of faulty or abandoned equipment in public hospitals which he said is a major challenge for the country’s healthcare delivery system.
His words: “This intervention comes as Ivory Coast, which has enjoyed stability and one of the fastest economic growth rates since the end of a civil war in 2011, grapples with some of the highest maternal and newborn mortality ratios globally.”
According to UNICEF’s 2016 State of the World’s Children report, 38 out of every 1,000 babies die within the first 28 days of birth while 645 out of 100,000 women die during or shortly after child birth due to avoidable conditions.
In Nigeria, on the other hand, about 40,000 women and 260,000 newborns (excluding 300,000 stillborn) die during or shortly after childbirth annually.
For this reason, neonatal mortality is considered as one of the worst public health crises in Nigeria and a major priority for the Government in its resolve to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.
“The commitment to help promote sustainable development in our communities is a fundamental part of Coca-Cola’s strategy for sustainable business growth.
This program which demonstrates this commitment will help save the precious lives of many mothers and newborns”, Smith added.