The Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) has joined a multi -country research project to improve Maternal and Newborn health in conflict-affected countries, including Nigeria, according to Dr. Emilia Iwu, Senior Technical Advisor, IHVN.
Iwu, who disclosed this in an interview on Sunday, in Abuja, added that the five-year project would focus its research on the day of birth and the first week of life, the timeframe with the highest number of Newborn deaths globally.
Iwu disclosed that the new partnership aimed at improving maternal and Newborn health in conflict-affected countries, through the creation of a multi-country research consortium.
“With funding provided by UK Aid, the $11.3 million contract will be led by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) alongside IHVN, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and its university-wide Centre for Humanitarian Health, the Somali Research and Development Institute, and Université Catholique de Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Ensuring quality access and learning for mothers and new borns in conflict-affected contexts — this contract is one of the largest research investments to date on the topic in humanitarian contexts and will work to identify and fill evidence gaps that could ultimately improve policies, programming, and outcomes for mothers and new borns,” she said.
“In 2019, alone, 2.4 million babies died in the first month of life. 75% of which occurred in the first week.
“The consortium will conduct research in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, northeast Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan ; countries and regions where maternal and Newborn mortality rates ranked among the highest globally.
”In Nigeria, for example, 35 new born babies die for every 1,000 live births , a devastating statistic that is nearly ten times higher than the risk faced by new borns in high-income countries,” she noted.
Iwu added that in addition to delivering cutting-edge research, EQUAL would invest in opportunities for partners and key stakeholders, to share expertise and strengthen technical, research, and operational capacities.
She added that this would include dedicated training and mentorship for female researchers, as well as using the research findings to help inform national health policies and guidelines.
“In Nigeria, IHVN will collaborate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, the Government of Yobe State, the Faculty of Shehu Sule College of Nursing and Midwifery to conduct operations research on the quality of midwifery education and practices.
“Specifically, we will conduct a 5-year assessment of the recently implemented Community Midwifery program to examine the effectiveness these midwives have in addressing gaps in maternal and neonatal health within rural communities in Yobe State.
”Of particular interest are factors affecting the midwifery workforce, participation, retention, performance, and personal resilience, during periods of increased insecurity,” Iwu explained.
According to her, the need for this work had become even more apparent in the face of COVID-19, as mobility restrictions, fear of transmission, and limited resources continued to prevent women from accessing safe delivery and postpartum care.