The Federal Government has concluded plans to pay women who attend antenatal clinics the sum of N5,000 as part of efforts to battle the menace of high maternal mortality rates.
The plan would be executed as part of the Midwifery Service Scheme (MSS) introduced in 2010 and it is hoped that it would also impact positively on child health.
According to the Director, Primary Health Care System Development with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Abdullahi Mohammed, the government has budgeted N15 billion for Maternal and Child Health Care from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).
“The woman must attend antenatal clinic at least four times. For each of those antenatal visits, there is money attached to it which is N1000. The woman must deliver at the facility; if she does, she is entitled to something; the woman must also ensure that the child is fully immunised. The total package is about N5,000. It is not big, but the feeling is that considering the level of poverty, it’s enough for women to attend antenatal clinics.”
Mohammed said that while antenatal clinic attendance was free, it had some incidental expenses that discouraged pregnant women from registering for antenatal care.
Knowing the problems associated with disbursement of public funds in the country, some people are of the view that it would cause a lot of corruption in the system with ‘Ghost Pregnant Women’ springing up from different corners.
Others say it would be better to reduce the cost of consultation and delivery at government hospitals rather than giving the pregnant women money for attending antenatal clinics because in the end, they may use the money for other purposes and not deliver their children at the facility.
Meanwhile, some say the program is non-sustainable and would fizzle out within a couple of months.
On the other hand, some people have lauded the initiative saying it would encourage women who wouldn’t otherwise attend antenatal clinics to do so. Whereas, others are of the opinion that it would not encourage family planning anymore because women would get pregnant too often if they know they would get an allowance during their pregnancy.
The news report didn’t state whether the money would be paid monthly but since it was called an ‘allowance’, the assumption is that it would be paid monthly.
What are your thoughts? Do you think it is wise to pay pregnant women money to encourage them to attend antenatal clinics? Is this programme sustainable? Would this affect family planning measures being encouraged in Nigeria already? Can the allowance really serve the cause of reducing high maternal mortality rates?
Please share your thoughts.