The UNFPA estimates that in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, more than 800,000 women will give birth in the next 12 months. Of these, more than 120,000 could die of complications in pregnancy and childbirth if life-saving emergency obstetric care is not provided. However, when this care is mostly receivable in or near a healthcare facility (HCF) that is currently treating or has treated a case of Ebola virus disease (EVD), the demand for the care will be much reduced, not forgetting that, on the other side, healthcare workers (HCWs) will be more apprehensive of emergency obstetric and child health cases (as women and children predominantly seek care more than men) in the middle of an EVD pandemic. Moreso, we must not forget the existential threat that Ebola anywhere in the sub-Sahara African region poses to Nigeria, the rest of Africa, and the world at large. It is in light of this that the Ebola and Maternal & Child Health initiative was conceived.
Ebola Alert, an organization that uses social media and digital technology to combat Ebola today partnered with Wellbeing Foundation, an organization that seeks to improve maternal, newborn and child health, to implement a web-based conversation among stakeholders on the emerging science of Ebola and how it affects Maternal, Newborn& Child Health.
The conversation, otherwise known as the #EbolaMNCHat, is scheduled to take place over a six-month duration and will involve fortnightly chat sessions over web-based platforms between experts and key stakeholders. The #EbolaMNCHat will focus on priority emerging issues in how maternal, newborn and child health relates with Ebola and capacity building for healthcare workers on minimizing morbidities and mortalities that may result from the challenges posed by Ebola Virus Disease.
It is hoped that this knowledge development exercise helps to strengthen evidence and expand knowledge-experience which will be applied by frontline healthcare workers who will be working in the areasof maternal, newborn and child health, in and around Ebola-affected and Ebola-prone areas,especially in developing countries of the world..
Dr. Luther-King Fasehun, Technical &Policy Lead of Wellbeing Foundation also added that “Reducing mortalities and morbidities around maternal, newborn and child health has been a major problem for developing countries, with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa complicating the entire scene. Some of what we know need to be refined within a framework that seeks to build the resilience of our health systems, given the peculiar care process of pregnancy, child birth, and child care.”
Dr. Lawal Bakare the founder of Ebola Alert added that “With strategic focus on different pain areas like this, we believe we can start developing capacities that will be supportive in this ongoing Ebola outbreak, and can support emerging protocols applied to ensure a definitive stop to Ebola.”
Given the role social media and new media technologies play in knowledge exchange and management, it is believed that this collaboration will yield locally applicable knowledge sets that will permeate clinical protocols in different parts of the world.