Nigeria accounts for 10% of global maternal deaths – Expert

Pregnant woman used to illustrate the story
Pregnant woman used to illustrate the story

Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

Nigeria accounts for 10 per cent of global maternal deaths, the Chairman of Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Oluwarotimi Akinola, disclosed on Thursday.

Mr. Akinola disclosed this in Lagos while speaking at the Lagos West Town Hall Meeting on Maternal and Child Deaths Reduction.

He added that by the rating, the country had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

According to him, the country`s maternal deaths burden is second to India, adding that 145 pregnant women lose their lives daily during child birth or shortly after it.

He urged government and other stakeholders to redouble efforts to bring the problem under control.

“The last National Demographic and Health Survey in 2008 placed the National Maternal Mortality rate at 545 per 100,000 live births. This is unacceptably high when compared to 350/100,000 and 400/100,000 in Ghana and Benin Republic respectively. Even if this is contentious, UNICEF in 2009 stirred the hornet`s nest when it updated its earlier estimation of the incidence of maternal mortality in Nigeria from 800 per 100,000 to 1,100 per 100,000 live births”.

The expert noted that that was a clear indication that the country’s efforts at controlling maternal deaths were not yielding anticipated results.

He urged government to muster the political will to stop the problem, “while other stakeholders should also work harder to tame it.”

He blamed the high mortality rate in the country to poor access to health facilities, poverty, illiteracy and unwillingness of pregnant women to access healthcare services.

“The problem is high in Nigeria because, like many developing countries, there is still illiteracy and poverty where people are not informed about health issues and cannot afford healthcare. It is the ignorance that makes 20 per cent of women give births on their own, while about 25 per cent patronise the Traditional Births Attendants (TBA,) who don`t really know what to do when things get out of hand.

“Of course, we have low capacity of health workers too. Some health workers do not have the right knowledge to be able to give adequate care to people seeking care from them. Some don`t know how to use shock garments, and other things used in gynecology; all of these factors contribute to the high maternal deaths in the country,” he said.

Mr. Akinola said that apart from encouraging women to visit the hospital and providing greater access to healthcare, there was the need to build the capacity of health workers to control the problem.

He commended the Lagos State Government for reducing maternal mortality, and pledged the assistance of his society for initiatives aimed at promoting maternal and child health in the state.

The Town Hall meeting was organised by the state government to sensitise women on the need to access healthcare during pregnancy.

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