Maternal And Child Death; Breaking The Norm In Nigeria | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Comment, Opinion

Maternal And Child Death; Breaking The Norm In Nigeria

Posted: May 28, 2015 at 12:46 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Donald Ofoegbu


It is hard to believe when not directly affected, that globally a woman dies from complications in childbirth every minute – about 529,000 each year. To Barrister Victor Laima such ordeal has been made a fact as he witnessed the death of 3 pregnant women within an hour in a medical centre in Gombe State. Such deaths are more peculiarly in developing countries like Nigeria. The direct causes of maternal deaths are haemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, and complications of unsafe abortion. There are birth-related disabilities that affect many more women and go untreated like injuries to pelvic muscles, organs or the spinal cord. At least 20% of the burden of disease in children below the age of 5 is related to poor maternal health and nutrition, as well as quality of care at delivery and during the newborn period. And yearly 8 million babies die before or during delivery or in the first week of life. Further, many children are tragically left motherless each year. These children are 10 times more likely to die within two years of their mothers’ death. Another risk to expectant women is malaria. It can lead to anaemia, which increases the risk for maternal and infant mortality and developmental problems for babies. Nutritional deficiencies contribute to low birth weight and birth defects as well. A majority of these deaths and disabilities are preventable, being mainly due to insufficient care during pregnancy and delivery. About 15 per cent of pregnancies and childbirths need emergency obstetric care because of complications that are difficult to predict.

A woman in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth; in Nigeria the chances are 1 in every 13, compared to a 1 in 4,000 risk in a developed country. This glaring disparity is reflected in a number of global declarations and resolutions which have not only being signed by governments, but given full commitments in implementation.

In September 2001, 147 heads of states collectively endorsed Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5: To reduce child mortality rate by 2/3 and maternal mortality ratio by 3/4 between 1990 and 2015. Strongly linked to these is Goal 6: To halt or begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. To ensure these efforts, the AU Abuja Declaration was signed to improve health sector budgeting to 15% of aggregate budget as well as the actualization of the National Health Act 2014 which compels the federal government to allocate at least 1% of the consolidated revenue fund into the Basic Health Care Provision Fund. Regardless of these commitments, the sector still remains underfunded, opaque and disintegrated.

Access to skilled care during pregnancy, childbirth and the first month after delivery is key to saving the lives of Nigerian women and those of their children. As well as the need to ensure that medical staffs are well compensated, else the continual risk of capital flight as well guaranteed consistent and sufficient supply of drug, working equipments and erecting standard medical facilities especially in the rural communities that have none. The actualization of all of these requires the none-hypocritical implementation of the NHA 2014 by the government, improvement of funding to the Primary Health Care Development Agency, as well as effective monitoring, evaluation and public reporting of the expended funds and donations to the sector by the agency, and lastly, broad grass root community sensitization by the government agencies, religious organisations, CSOs and other health development stakeholders on the importance of quality health services and practices; family planning, immunization, use of insecticide treated nets, etc, as well as their rights to engage and demand from their House of Representatives, Senators, Governors, Community and Traditional Rulers, and the Incoming Administration their “Right to Life” which can only be guaranteed when their “Right to Basic Primary Healthcare” is provided for.


• Ofoegbu Wrote in from Abuja.