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 im 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 intrapartum 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 foetus 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.