Impelled by the need to aid the country’s attainment of its sustainable development commitments, Nigeria’s leading beverage company, Coca Cola Nigeria Limited, took its Safe Birth Initiative (SBI), aimed at improving maternal outcomes and reducing child mortality incidents to Federal Medical Center, Owerri.
The equipment and supplies worth a total conservative value of about $800,000, ie over N290 Million, were formally unveiled and handed over at a special event held at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri on February 21, 2020.
Every year, thousands of women and newborns die from preventable causes as a result of a lack of access to or poor healthcare services. It is estimated that no fewer than seven million babies are born in Nigeria annually. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one in 34 Nigerian babies die before their first birthday. It is against this background that the Safe Birth Initiative was created by Coca Cola Nigeria in collaboration with Medshare International and the Federal Government through the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs and the Federal Ministry of Health in 2018. The initiative was created to strengthen the capacity of selected tertiary reference institutions across the country through the procurement of vital maternal and neonatal medical equipment/supplies, training biomedical engineering/technicians to improve equipment maintenance and repairs of abandoned medical equipment.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe restated Coca Cola’s commitment to upholding the health and well-being of women as cornerstone pillars of the society. “The issue of maternal mortality is very important to us because it affects the wellbeing of women. Globally, Coca-Cola has a commitment to women whom we consider pillars of the society and also pillars of our business in Africa, where they have always played a dominant role in our vast distribution and retail network. Through the SBI, we want to support the untiring efforts of our hard-working doctors, midwives and nurses who battle against great odds in our public hospitals to manage life-threatening complications affecting mothers and the newborn”. she said.
The Minister for Health, represented by the Head, Clinical Services, Federal Medical Center, Umuahia, Dr. Ugochukwu Onyeonoro expressed his gratitude to Coca-Cola Nigeria and Medshare International for the equipment donated to the Federal Medical Center, Owerri. He said, “I am happy about this initiative championed by Coca-Cola and Medshare. These contributions will certainly contribute to the reduction in mother and child mortality rate in Nigeria as a whole.”
Speaking on the partnership with Coca-Cola, Director of Biomedical Training and Technical Services, Medshare International, Dr. Eben Amstrong said, “There is no way these equipment and consumables would have gotten to Federal Medical Center, Owerri without Coca-Cola. They have been a very efficient and able partner and Medshare International is grateful for that”.
The Chairman of the Board, Federal Medical Center, Owerri, Senator Ishaq Adebayo Salman also expressed his gratitude to Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited and Medshare International. He said, “I would like to thank Coca-Cola and Medshare for their contributions to Federal Medical Center, Owerri. They did not stop at donating the necessary equipment needed in the hospital, they went further to train the biomedical staff both on technical skills and on character to ensure more lives are saved.”
The installation and unveiling at FMC Owerri makes it the fourth beneficiary hospital to receive medical equipment under this Initiative. A total of 15 major public hospitals recommended by the Federal Ministry of Health, will receive hospital equipment, kits, and supplies worth a total conservative value of about $10.8 million, i.e. over N3.8 billion as Coca Cola and its partners Medshare International hope to promote improved maternal care experience at these public health institutions.
Coca Cola Nigeria has imprinted strong local footprints in more than 200 countries across the globe through strategic projects that tackle some of the challenges that impede the sustainable development of communities. Since Inception, the SBI has delivered ten units of forty-foot containers of medical equipment, kit, and supplies to four target public health Institutions; National Hospital, Abuja, Federal Medical Centre Ebute Metta, Lagos, Alimosho General Hospital, Igando and now Federal Medical Center, Owerri. A total of over 120 Biomedical Engineers/technicians drawn across various beneficiary institutions have also been trained under the initiative.