Nigeria’s high maternal mortality rate was recently confirmed by a new report which revealed that about 400,000 women die every year in the country from childbirth related complications. The report presented by the Chairman of the Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP), Dr. Ejike Oji, indicated that the nation’s maternal mortality ratio has hit 576 deaths out of every 100,000 live births daily.Dr Oji, who stated this ahead of the Fourth Family Planning Conference slated for Abuja, said this makes Nigeria the country with the second highest cases of maternal mortality in the world after India. Unfortunately, the report also pointed out that this is a reversal of achievements recorded as at December 2013 when the rate was reported to have dropped to 224 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Most of the deaths, the latest report said, are associated with poor family planning strategies. It also said that some of the deaths occur in high-risk pregnancies, including young girls with obstructed labour. Other highlights of the report include the fact many young girls with unwanted pregnancies die from complications arising from procuring abortions.
Also, women who have too many children could easily bleed to death after delivery. The report equally said that some pregnancies are very close together and chances of bleeding to death are remarkably high after delivery.
The new report on high incidence of maternal mortality in the country is a serious cause for concern. Perhaps it is a wake-up call on the government to do something urgently to ensure safe delivery in the country. The Federal, State and Local Governments should take pragmatic intervention measures to tackle this problem headlong.
We recall that it is not quite long that the Federal Government promised to build additional 10,000 health centres across the 774 council areas in the country. We want to remind it to expedite action on this promise and ensure that these health centres are built and made to work.
We remember also that the Federal Government has launched the national Midwives’ Service Scheme (MSS) to mobilise midwives to selected primary healthcare facilities in rural communities to increase the availability of skilled birth attendants and boost safe delivery services in the country.
Government must ensure that the MSS is working. And if it is not working, it should be reinvigorated. Nigeria cannot continue to be regarded as one of the worst places to be a mother. That Nigeria ranks second in maternal mortality rate in the world is bad enough. Government must act fast to remove Nigeria from this ignominious ranking.
Apart from ensuring that there are adequate healthcare facilities, doctors and midwives to attend to the pregnant women, government should embark on public enlightenment campaigns on the need for ante-natal clinic attendance by pregnant women to see the doctors and midwives on a regular basis.
Ante-natal and post-natal hospital attendance is vital to the health of the mother and the baby as well. Pregnant women should stop patronizing traditional birth attendants, religious and miracle centres for the delivery of their babies. We say this because these centres do not have the expertise to manage complications that may arise from obstructed labour.
But where skilled birth attendants are in short supply, government should train the local birth attendants on basic child delivery skills. And where there are complications, they should refer such cases to the nearest health facility for prompt medical attention. Since the cost of child delivery in some hospitals has gone up, government should subsidize it so that more pregnant women can access them.
Government should make child bearing a pleasurable experience for women by reducing the cost of ante-natal clinic and child delivery. Since child spacing enhances safe delivery, women should be encouraged to embrace such practice. Women should be enjoined to embrace some family planning strategies to enable them space their children. Let all tiers of government work in concert to ensure safe motherhood in the country.