`Virgin Olive Oil in Kit for Clean, Safe Births in Nigeria - Olive Oil Times

Virgin Olive Oil in Kit for Clean, Safe Births in Nigeria

Feb. 20, 2014
Julie Butler

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Virgin olive oil is among the items in a ster­ile mother’s deliv­ery kit being sold in Nigeria to help save the lives of women and their babies.

The afford­able kits are aimed at reduc­ing infec­tion, a lead­ing cause of death among moth­ers and infants in a coun­try with an infant mor­tal­ity rate of nearly 8 percent.

Adepeju Mabadeje Jaiyeoba

Instead of using nylon bags as gloves, tooth­paste as dis­in­fec­tant, or rusty blades and even glass to cut the umbil­i­cal cord — prac­tices still seen in some areas — the dis­pos­able kits pro­vide the basics for a clean deliv­ery. Sterile gloves, cord clamps, a scalpel blade, anti­sep­tic and gauze are among the 15 items in the kit. Also included are immu­niza­tion and ante­na­tal fol­low-up forms to fos­ter a wider cycle of health and well-being.

The kits are from Mother’s Delivery Kit Ventures, a social enter­prise based in Lagos and founded by lawyer and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment advo­cate Adepeju Mabadeje Jaiyeoba who says,“ensuring the right instru­ments are avail­able and acces­si­ble at child­birth is key to sav­ing lives.”

Jaiyeoba told Olive Oil Times the kits were designed by a med­ical team to suit cul­tural birth prac­tices and the fact tra­di­tional birth atten­dants (TBAs), not doc­tors, han­dle more than 70 per­cent of child deliv­er­ies in Nigeria. The basic kit sells for $5 and the ver­sion includ­ing a 100ml bot­tle of vir­gin olive oil for $6.

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Why olive oil?

Jaiyeoba said the olive oil is used to clean the babies imme­di­ately after birth. There is a layer on the new­born called vernix caseosa and it’s lipophilic, mean­ing it dis­solves in oil. Soaps aren’t used ini­tially because of their harsh­ness to the new­born skin. Basically a birth atten­dant pours the olive oil on the mater­nity pad included and cleans the baby with it,” she said.

As for why olive oil was cho­sen and not another oil, Jaiyeoba said this was because many TBAs strongly believe that, apart from its health ben­e­fits, olive oil helps offer early spir­i­tual pro­tec­tion for the baby.”

Many moth­ers also believe that olive oil is a prod­uct that can be prayed upon by a spir­i­tual leader and used to anoint the baby. So we work within this frame­work because sci­en­tif­i­cally olive oil has been shown to have a bet­ter pen­e­trat­ing effect to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores.”

She said other rea­sons include olive oil’s high level of antiox­i­dants and its pro­tec­tive fac­tors against dam­age from UV rays. The baby’s melanocytes respon­si­ble for skin pig­men­ta­tion are not fully func­tional at birth. The baby’s skin is del­i­cate and prone to ultra­vi­o­let light and olive oil offers addi­tional pro­tec­tion for the skin in this regard.”

Goal: grow sales to a mil­lion this year

Our work has involved trav­el­ling to some of the areas of Nigeria where the Boko Haram insur­gency has been at its most intense. We are con­stantly sur­prised that out of the whole of Nigeria we receive more orders from these areas for our deliv­ery kits than any­where else,” Jaiyeoba said.

Thanks to its part­ner­ship with man­u­fac­tur­ers, the orga­ni­za­tion is able to make a profit on the kits which goes to fur­ther its social objec­tives and pro­mote the health of moth­ers and babies. It has already sold more than 6,000 kits since it was set up last August and aims to serve a mil­lion women in 2014, a goal requir­ing the pur­chase of big­ger pro­duc­tion machines and enough cap­i­tal to buy raw mate­ri­als in bulk.

Meetings with busi­ness angels in Boulder

Out of 240 appli­cants from 60 coun­tries, it has been cho­sen by the Colorado-based Unreasonable Institute as one of 14 ven­tures for its 2014 fel­low­ship pro­gram, which starts with a 5‑week boot­camp” in Boulder at which they are matched up with expe­ri­enced social entre­pre­neurs and poten­tial investors in a bid to help them scale up enough to impact the lives of over a mil­lion people.

Jaiyeoba said social investors are few and far between” in Nigeria so the pro­gram would be an invest­ment which will pay off in terms of scal­ing up our ven­ture and there­fore mul­ti­ply­ing the num­ber of lives we can save.”

Mother’s Delivery Kit needs spon­sors to fund the $16,500 cost of its atten­dance at the insti­tute. Donations can be made on the Unreasonable Marketplace web­site.


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