Health Ministry Decries Low Antenatal Care Uptake By Pregnant Women In Ebonyi

By Esther Nworie

The Ebonyi state Malaria Program Elimination Officer, Mr. Lawrence Nwankwo on Tuesday said the government is working through the Health Ministry, Advocacy and Communication core group to address the low rate of antenatal care (ANC) by pregnant women in the state.
Nwankwo spoke in Abakaliki while on the hospital uptake of anti-natal care by pregnant women in Ebonyi.
He said currently Afikpo South Local Government Area of the State has the lowest data uptake while Ohaukwu is recording highest number and attributed the success story of Ohaukwu to the health services rendered by TipTop Japigo Nigeria, a non governmental organization which is in the area.
“The low antenatal care (ANC) attendance we are recording and the poor use of SP, drug prevention of malaria in pregnancy is what we want to address. The uptake of sulphur- doxine pyrimethamine (SP) is low. It is low compare to standard but not low compared to other states. We are much better than other states but we want to be at the standard level.”
“So we are thinking of using the data that have been analyzed by DHIS to advocate for responsible and concerned authorities, so that there will be a change.”
“Local Government Areas, Afikpo South has the least based on the data submitted while Ohaukwu is the highest in ANC and SP uptake. But it is the presence of “Tip Top” that gave them that opportunity as to compare to other LGAs and general hospitals.
He further said, the group shall try to make people have positive change on accessing antenatal care services in a government owned hospitals.
“The antenatal care and use of SP is low. People don’t see general hospitals as where they can access ARC as compared to mission hospitals. That is what is shown in the data.”
“What is important to us is the use of net and not the collection. If one person has net and she is using it, it will provide what is called community protection. If we have 80% of Ebonyians sleeping inside mosquito net out of 100%, it will provide what is called community protection to the remaining 20% and the community is protected.”
“So, that is why we emphasis on the use of the net and we are happy that Tip Top and Breakthrough Action Nigeria have been helping us to create awareness.”
The State project officer TipTop Japigo Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Ogharu in a remark explained that “Tip Top” is a pilot project managed by Japigo for prevention of malaria from pregnant women and unborn children.
He explained that with time, the project will scale up to other local governments in the state but that will be based on result.
“WHO will pronounce that in future. And we have seen maternal mortality rate have started going down in Ohaukwu in the past 3 years as a result of the intervention.”
He emphasized that malaria is a dangerous disease most critical to pregnant women and the unborn child. Intervention to pregnant women helps protect the unborn child and avoid miscarriage, so I enjoin women in Ohaukwu and other parts of the State to go for Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) with sulphur-doxine pyrimethamine (SP). It is a three tablet that is commenced at the 13th week.
Dr. James Oketa, the Director State Primary Health Development Agency, charged the team to work assiduously towards preventing the spread of malaria in the rural communities.
He added that while the core-group moves to sensitize the rural communities, message on the spread of coronavirus disease should be emphasized on as the rate of hygiene at the community level is very low.
State Coordinator, Breakthrough Action Nigeria, Chidimma Okoha Nwankwo in her submission assured that key messages on the use of mosquito net and malaria prevention as well as the need to maintain the protocol rules of Covid-19 shall be taken to major integral part of the State.

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