Lagos - The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday called for private sector support in ensuring that pregnant survivors of insurgency have safe and healthy deliveries.
Ratidzai Ndhlovu, UNFPA Country Representative in Nigeria, made the appeal at the handing over ceremony of 400 birth kits to displaced persons in Borno State by Lagos-based Deluxe Childbirth Services.
The Deluxe Childbirth Services (DSC), a medical services firm, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility programme, donated the kits to the UNFPA to support pregnant women in Internally Displaced Persons settlements in Boko Haram-affected communities in Borno.
USAID facilitated the transfer of the birth kits and identified the UNFPA as the partner organisation to receive the kits.
Two other USAID projects also played a role in the handover; the Expanded Social Marketing Project in Nigeria transported the birth kits free of charge to Kaduna.
The Targeted States High Impact Project provided 400 doses of Chlorhexidine, an antibiotic gel that prevents cord infection in newborns that would accompany the birth kits.
Ndhlovu said that the plea became necessary after the signing of the USAID grant in June and in the wake of more insurgency attacks in the North East region.
"The UNFPA has been advocating for stronger partnerships and synergies including with the private sector in order to accelerate and improve humanitarian response in the region.
"Deluxe Childbirth Services, as part of her CSR responded quickly, to compliment UNFPA’s efforts to support child birth in emergencies.
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"The event is coming just at the right time as UNFPA takes global leadership to commemorate this year’s World Population Day (WPD) of which the theme is ` Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies.’
"The particular focus is on women and adolescent girls."
She said: "As we commemorate the WPD here in Nigeria, the UNFPA is ready to redouble its efforts not only to ensure that pregnant survivors of insurgency have a safe, healthy and uninterrupted nine months journey to delivery.
"But also to ensure that a safe, clean and dignified delivery for both the mother and newborn.
"This is why, in addition to the comprehensive RH kits including clean delivery kits and hygiene kits that we have been distributing, the UNFPA has also started distributing Baby Packs.
"The Baby Packs we distribute to pregnant women contain all clothes and items that a mother needs for the newborn baby.
"We are appealing to the private sector to support us with baby packs and the list of items for this pack can be shared upon request," she requested.
According to Ndhlovu, about 60,000 births are expected in IDP camps by 2015 and the UNFPA anticipates that the donation will be additional tools for improving the health of newborn babies in the camps.
Julie Koenen, Acting Director, USAID/Nigeria said: "The U.S. Government will continue to support further collaboration between the private sector and the development community in Nigeria.
"All products will be distributed in three settlements for internally displaced persons in Maiduguri; UNFPA will train skilled birth attendants on their use,’’ she said.
Also, Iphie Chuks-Adizue, Founder/Managing Partner, Deluxe Childbirth Services, said that the gesture was borne out of the need to help in the reduction of the high maternal mortality rate in Nigeria.
"Statistics have shown that Nigeria records a high rate of maternal mortality rate with infections being identified as one of the highest causes of this mortality.
"Deluxe Childbirth Services, as part of her `Project Mum Alive’, a CSR initiative, has set aside a portion of her income to help in reducing incidences of maternal mortality.
"The pregnant women living in IDP settlements in insurgent areas like Borno have been taken into consideration because of their possible predicament in situations like this," Chuks-Adizue said.
Each birth kit contains an absorbent delivery mat, three infant diapers, one bar of anti-bacterial soap, one scalpel, one bottle of methylated spirit and 10 sanitary pads.
It also contains five pieces of gauze, a pack of cotton wool, two sterilised gloves, infant cord clamps and one mucus extractor