The Coca-Cola Company will launch a new program – The Safe Birth Initiative – to support the Ministries of Health in Ivory Coast and Nigeria to tackle the high incidence of maternal and newborn 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 His Excellency Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Ivory Coast.
The program will focus on strengthening the capacity of maternity and neonatal 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 not-for-profit NGO 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.
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 is a major challenge for the country’s healthcare delivery system.
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. This translates to 31,000 newborns and 5,400 maternal deaths annually in a country with a population of 24 million people.
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. About 29% of the newborn deaths (90,000) occur in the first 24 hours of birth. 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).
Brian Smith, Coca-Cola EMEA Group President stated, “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 and also support the remarkable efforts of the Ivorian government at rebuilding this vibrant country”.