Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Coca-Cola to Launch $2m Safe Birth Initiative in Nigeria, Ivory Coast

Rebecca Ejifoma

In line with its long-standing commitment to women and the well-being of communities, Coca-Cola company is set to launch the Safe Birth Initiative in support of the Ministry of Health to reduce the high rate of maternal and newborn mortality in Ivory Coast and Nigeria through its Safe Birth Initiative.

The Coca-Cola Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) Group President, Brian Smith, said this during a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic of Ivory Coast, Alassane Quattara.

“The commitment to help promote sustainable development in the communities is a fundamental part of Coca-Cola’s strategy for sustainable business growth. This programme, 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,” he expressed.

In addition, the programme will focus on strengthening the capacity of maternity and neonatal units in selected public hospitals in the two countries. 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.

There will be 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 death ratios globally.

According to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) 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).

Responding to the initiative, the President welcomed Coca-Cola’s support for the Health Ministry, adding that maternal and child health was an area the country recorded a weak performance under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “Your new program will translate to improved healthcare and budget savings which will be channeled to other needs.”

According to Quattara, his administration had been able to drive fast growth in the economy at an average rate of 9% over the last five years. “Our emphasis now is to boost social expenditure with a focus on health, education and youth employment in order reduce the poverty level further from 50% to about 25% by the end of my current tenure.”

Meanwhile, Ivorian Minister of Health, Dr. Goudou Coffi, maintained that the improvement of maternal and newborn healthcare is one of the public health priorities of the country and thanked Coca-Cola for the initiative.

He said: “Coca-Cola’s support through the Safe Birth Initiative will significantly strengthen our healthcare capacity and boost our resolve towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets in relation to maternal and newborn mortalities.”

Speaking at the launch, President of Coca-Cola West Africa Business Unit, Peter Njonjo, describes women as pillars of their business. “Coca-Cola has a special relationship with women who are pillars of our business, especially in Africa where they play a dominant role in our distribution and retail network."

She continued: "Just like our 5by20 Initiative, the Safe Birth Initiative – which we will be implementing in Ivory Coast and Nigeria – is a platform enabling us to promote the wellbeing of women, in this case, as it relates to the special but vulnerable experience of childbirth.”

About The Coca Cola Company:
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands and nearly 3,900 beverage choices. Led by Coca-Cola, one of the world's  most  valuable and recognisable brands,  our company's  portfolio features 21 billion-dollar brands, 19 of which are available in reduced-,  low-  or  no-calorie  options.  These  brands  include Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero,  Fanta, Sprite, Dasani,  vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid,  Simply, Del Valle, Georgia and Gold Peak.

Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, we are  the  No.  1 provider of both sparkling and still beverages. More than 1.9 billion servings  of  our  beverages are enjoyed by consumers in more than 200 countries each day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our company  is  focused  on initiatives  that  reduce  our  environmental footprint, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our  bottling  partners,  we  rank among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates.

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