The most populous country in Africa contributes to about 10 percent of global maternal, infant and child deaths.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that 45 000 women die in childbirth every year in Nigeria. The Healthymagination Mother and Child Initiative is a $20 million joint venture with a mandate to expand access to prenatal screenings to more than 2 million expectant mothers across Nigeria by 2020, in order to decrease the high numbers of maternal deaths in the country.

The initiative will address maternal and child health challenges among health workers in Nigeria by training midwives, nurses, and other health professionals to use the portable ultrasound (Vscan Access) screening tool to determine at-risk pregnancies.

“Through the availability of relevant technologies, such as the Vscan Access and comprehensive training, we aim to make a meaningful contribution to primary and referral care by building capacity, enhancing skills, and driving better outcomes for Nigerian mothers and babies and for their communities,” said Farid Fezoua, President and CEO, GE Healthcare Africa.

The Healthymagination initiative will target 1300 midwives and prenatal primary health caregivers with 100 000 hours of training over the next three years in maternal and child health care.

“This new initiative is a major step forward in accelerating the development of maternal and infant care in Nigeria through the promotion of safe pregnancy, labour, and post-natal care. It will support the continuum of care by increasing human capacity, providing mobile ultrasound technology and reducing financial barriers,” said Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of State for Health.

Comprehensive training will start in May 2016, followed by ongoing mentoring and grading in the field by qualified trainers and clinicians. Expectant mothers will begin to receive the Vscan Access screenings in June 2016 at participating primary care clinics and general hospitals.

As a result, millions of Nigerian women and children will receive quality health services during an especially vulnerable time in their lives.