By Gabriel Olawale
As Nigeria joins the global community to mark this year’s International Day of Maternal Health, experts Thursday said that maternal mortality can be prevented even in a resource constrained settings. They said that 75 percent of deaths can be averted if women have access to quality medical services.
Speaking at a program to mark the International Day of Maternal health with the theme: Accelerating the impact of maternal health intervention, organized by HACEY Initiatives in conjunction with Access Bank, Dr. Omolaso Omosehin of the Lagos office of UNFPA, said that both the state and federal governments have a huge role to play in tackling the menace.
Dr. Omosehin who was one of the panelists reeled out the most commonly preventable causes of maternal mortality to include; smoking during pregnancy, mother’s level of education, environmental conditions, political and medical infrastructure.
He said UNFPA over the years has been supporting the government of Nigeria in strengthening the supply of commodities for maternal mortality reduction through the procurement and distribution of maternal health life-saving commodities.
Dr. Omosehin, however commended Access Bank for partnering with HACEY Initiatives, saying if other corporate organizations also invest their capitals in tackling maternal mortality in the country, the rising trend would have been nipped in the bud.
Another panelist, Dr. Edun Omasanjuwa, the Lagos state team leader for JHUCIP/NURHI, said the key issue of raising awareness among Nigeria is very important as many women are still reluctant in contacting qualified medical personnel due to traditional practices.
“If we look at the factors that contribute to some women’s inability to attend antenatal clinics in Nigeria, its boils down to the fact we live in a very patriarchal society where decision making is to the advantage of the male headed household.
He noted how the inability of development partners and national actors in Nigeria to mobilize women to take advantage of the services and supplies in the hospitals, especially in relation to pregnancy and delivery, pose a major factor that contributes to the maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria.
In her own opinion, Abiodun Oguntuase, a certified midwife with Lagos state General Hospital, Ikorodu said that government could help to bring down the mortality rate through appropriate financing and monitoring of the fund allocated to the health sector.
“There are lots to be done in the rural areas where they still go through unsafe traditional birth attendants to keep the maternal mortality rate down,’’ she said.
Executive Director of Gender Development Programs at HACEY Initiatives, Rhoda Robinson, said infant and maternal mortality has been a recurring issue in the health sector.
“As interesting as the issue might appear, going by the enthusiasm it elicits when the matter is mentioned in quarters, it is, however, shocking to read year in, year out of the alarming rate it assumes every now and then.”
She said her organization (Hacey Health Initiative) in partnership with Access Bank have championed and supported a number of activities and initiatives to create awareness among women on the need to seek medical assistance from qualified medical practitioners.
“One of such projects is the ‘Project Agbebi’ which basically help train Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) and also help to improve the health and survival rate of women and children in rural communities.