A medical doctor, Mary-Ann Etiebet, on Friday called for greater adoption of technology to improve maternal healthcare, enhance universal health coverage and reduce deaths amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Etiebet, Executive Director of the Merck for Mothers Initiative, made the call at a virtual African Digital Health Summit (ADHS) 2020.
The summit had the theme: “Accelerating Achievement of Universal Health Coverage – The COVID-19 Era – The Role of Technology.”
She said that the pandemic highlighted credible digital health resources and services which would be key to sustaining critical health services including maternal healthcare.
According to her, technology is the alternative to making sure that patients, especially pregnant women, are in contact with their physicians anywhere for care.
“Pregnancy and childbirth can be life-changing and life-defining. This is the time when women need care and ways to interact with the healthcare providers more than usual.
“This encounter can be achieved with technology; it provides opportunity to deliver high quality care that can establish long-term trust between the woman and her healthcare provider.
“What happens during such an interaction can have enormous impact on a woman’s health, her baby, her life and her family.
“We can see what technology is contributing; so, it is very important to adopt technology, “she said.
Etiebet said that technology could help the country to get closer to meeting universal healthcare cooperate goals and ending preventable maternal deaths.
“A recent scientific publication estimated that COVID-19 pandemic could result in the death of over one million children and tens of thousands of mothers in just six months.
”This is due to the significant reduction in the availability of the utilisation of the central healthcare services.
“We are already living in that worst scenario because, in May 2020, the Nigeria Ministry of Health reported that antenatal care visits and child immunisation had dropped by about 50 per cent.
“Visit to skilled birth attendants has also dropped by 40 per cent,” she said.
According to her, Nigeria has the highest number of estimated maternal deaths in the world.
“Almost one in four of all the deaths happening in the world happens in Nigeria, but we can all make a choice toward changing the story by adopting technology.
“We can all help to create a world where no woman has to die for giving life,“ she said.