Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko started the Abiye Initiative, a revolutionary program that offers free healthcare to pregnant women and children under five.
Washington, DC — One in five Nigerian children will die before reaching his or her fifth birthday, according to Save the Children. Their mothers are also suffering - the country accounted for 14 percent of maternal deaths worldwide in 2010, according to the United Nations.
But one governor says he is determined to reverse the tide on maternal and infant mortality with a new program that offers free health care to mothers and children under five. Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko launched the Abiye (safe motherhood) initiative in 2009. Its success - through the deployment of roving paramedics, opening new hospitals and slashing medical costs - has garnered acclaim from international organizations such as the World Bank.
At a media roundtable in Washington DC on Thursday, AllAfrica's Kyle Pienaar and Lauren Everitt caught up with Mimiko to learn why
the governor chose to focus on maternal health, the challenges he faced along the way and his plans to meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.
You said that Nigeria accounts for an estimated 14 percent of maternal deaths worldwide. Why are conditions so bad for pregnant women in Nigeria?
It's a combination of many factors. It's lack of planning, lack of emphasis on the right priorities. The population is also a factor - we're 160 million. Where I come from, Ondo State, there are four million people. But leadership is also part of it. It's an issue of priorities, mainstreaming the right things