Alarming rate of maternal mortality among Nigerian  women

On July 19, 2011  · In Viewpoint

NIGERIA as a nation is blessed with both human and natural resources, yet  women die everyday from the scourge of maternal mortality.

Nigeria has the second highest rate of maternal death in the world: One  in  every eight women die while giving birth. Most of these deaths are avoidable as  compared to the United States of America where only one in 4,800 obtains.

However, one of the millennium development goals is to improve maternal  health care. This was adopted by the international community at the United  Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 with the aim of achieving 75 per cent drop  from the level of maternal mortality in the year 2015.

But come to think of it, would this  really be possible in this country where  women die from a wide range of complications in pregnancy, child birth or  postpartum period which in most cases are caused by poor health at conception  and lack of adequate care needed for the healthy outcome of the pregnancy for  themselves and their babies.

Nigeria is still battling to achieve regular power supply in the 21st  century, a time where virtually every activity of man has gone digital and most  hospitals are not excluded from this reign of darkness. Some women are operated  upon using candles or kerosene lamps in the theatre.

Pregnancy which ordinarily should be a thing of joy  is now seen as a death  warrant for most women due to the weak and poor primary health care system and  less qualified staff in most rural communities. In the urban areas where some  good health services are available they are too expensive or reaching them is  too costly.

Every year, more than 133 million babies are born, 90 per cent in low and  middle income countries. When their mother die, the chance of their survival is  slim. Lack of maternal care is a major cause of babies death and disability  among infants.

Every year, three million babies are stillborn. Almost one quarter of these  babies die during birth. The causes of these deaths are similar to the cause of  maternal death: obstructed or prolonged labour, eclampsia and infection such as  syphilis.

Poor maternal health and disease that have not been adequately treated before  or during pregnancy contribute to intra-partum death as well as to many babies  born preterm and with low birth weight. Among the 133 million babies who are  born alive each year, 2.8 million die in the first week of life and slightly  less than one million in the following three weeks.

Therefore, for Nigeria to achieve an accelerated success in improving  maternal health, quality health system and barriers to access health services  must be identified and tackled at all levels, even down to the grassroots.  Proper education should be adequately given to pregnant women on how to take  care of themselves during pregnancy.

Adequate enlightenment campaign should be carried out in the rural areas  using the local chiefs and clergies in collaboration with the local media on the  importance of ante-natal care during pregnancy just the way the campaign against  polio is being done. During  ante-natal care, women are examined for possible  complications and also drugs are administered to cater for the health of  the  mother as well as the fetus in her womb.

In the Northern part of the country, VVF is very common mostly due to lack of  the care needed during pregnancy. And when this occurs their system becomes  damaged; carrying out their daily activities becomes difficult. Worst of all is  that most husbands leave their wives to suffer the pain alone without providing  the care they need.

Most maternal deaths are avoidable, as the health care solutions to prevent  or manage the complications are well known. Since complications are not  predictable, all women need care from skilled health professionals, especially  at birth, when rapid treatment can make a difference between life and death.

The Nigerian government should try and put smiles on the faces of  women,  especially the rural dwellers by putting different measures in place to cater  for their health. Money should not be a deterrence in procuring a good health in  Nigeria.

Ms. HAWWA  MUHAMMAD, a student , wrote from Bayero University, Kano.