March 30, 2023

82,000 Nigerian women dying yearly from pregnancy-related complications — UNICEF

pregnancy-related complications

*Says current birth rate now stands at 8m yearly

*Seeks strengthening of primary health care

By Joseph Erunke

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has disclosed that no fewer than 82,000 Nigerian women are now dying yearly from pregnancy-related complications.

The organisation said 225 women are dying every day from maternal mortality, seeking urgent action by authorities to halt the ugly development.

On the other hand, the global humanitarian intervention agency revealed that the country was now witnessing 8 million childbirth yearly, expressing worry that the situation was not commensurate with healthcare care indices in the country.

UNICEF Chief of Health in Nigeria, Eduardo Celades, disclosed these in Lagos on Tuesday, at a Media Dialogue on COVID19 and Routine Immunization, hosted by UNICEF Nigeria.

The new death rate arising from pregnancy-related complications doubled the figure released by the Federal Ministry of Health, just in March 2022.

Recall that the ministry had through its Director of Family Health, Salma Kolo,said at least 40,000 women in Nigeria lose their lives to pregnancy -related issues annually.

She noted that over one million children under the age of five also die as a result of losing their mothers to pregnancy delivery complications.

But speaking at the media dialogue, UNICEF Chief of Health, Eduardo Celades,said the figure of deaths arising from pregnancy-related complications had reached 82,000 in 2023 just as he said 225 women die yearly in the country as a result of the development.

The UNICEF representative,who said Nigeria has a very high rate of maternal mortality at the moment,cited global maternal mortality report from 2000 to 2020, recently launched as the source.

The new figures which he said was gotten , would help UNICEF in its response to health challenges in the country.

He said:” In the last few months and weeks,we got new data. The report is telling us that still, the number of women dying from pregnancy related causes is very high. About 82,000 are estimated to die every year from maternal mortality.

“What we doing is to strengthen primary health care in the country.

“We hope that the data would help us in our response and the response with the government in Nigeria.

“The other one is the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, MICS,an analysis where there are the main issue and how we can face them.

And the other new data is the global maternal mortality trends,2000 to 2020. This is a new report that was launched a couple of weeks ago and we wanted to share that with you,because we think this could influence how we work and to define how we work with government,so that we can all align and we can have a common narrative .

“We think that this is the new way of working. We are learning and we are trying to innovate. Nigeria is one of the most complex countries in the world in terms of the public health issues that it is facing.

“It is the second country in the world with more zero dose children–the ones that have not had any single vaccine. It is the country in the world with high maternal mortality.

“Last year was the biggest outbreak in the world and Nigeria has extreme weak health system. So, we are trying to think from different angles because we at UNICEF and the UN cannot move alone. To do that, we need the government to work with journalists and social media influencers to make the change that is needed.”

The UNICEF representative disclosed that his organisation was planning to launch
antigenes virus vaccines in the country soon, saying the vaccine would immunized children from some childhood diseases.

Noting that Nigeria was progressing towards the attainment of SDG three, he said the nation’s current progress pace was insufficient to meet the targets.

“Maternal mortality is not going down. Maternal mortality is the same. We have seen that it has reduced about 12% in the last 20 years but it is not enough if we want to achieve the target.

So, from UNICEF ,our main approach is to try to accelerate interventions to make an impact. Now, we have seven years up to 2030 and we are half way. If we continue like this, some donors will leave in the next few years, so we have a window of opportunities.

He said the organisation’s call to action in respect to maternal mortality rate in the country was the “need to increase effective investments in primary healthcare, at the state level as well as the Basic Health Care Provision Fund BHCPF.”

“The second one is that now,we have a very powerful tool to get Universal Health Coverage,UHC.To reduce maternal mortality,we must focus on National Health Insurance. So I appeal for expansion of the National Health Insurance as much as we can.

We must invest in the most vulnerable. We appeal to state government to allocate resources to that as well as partners to allocate resoruces to that .

“Our third appeal is to target the most most vulnerable, those women who don’t have acces in the most hard- to-reach areas and in the more inaccessible places. We need to invest in getting into these areas.

He disclosed that UNICEF was working in collaboration with the Nigerian Governors Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to launch what he described as Leadership Challenge.

“The challenge is called the Primary Healthcare Leadership Challenge and the idea is to recognize and award the state governments that are really investing more in the primary health care.

The event,he said, would attract different categories of awards with $200 million as the highest to states that will win from the six geopolitical zones of the country.

Earlier,UNICEF Nigeria Communications Officer,Safiya Akau, while noting that “the importance of journalists and the media in battling false information concerning COVID-19 and routine immunization cannot be emphasized”, said that:”For the public to receive correct and timely information, to combat false information, and to foster a sense of community and solidarity in the face of any epidemic, journalists have a critical role to play.”

“UNICEF has been at the forefront of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and other preventable diseases, promoting social behavior change, covid-19 vaccination, systemic health system strengthening, and routine immunization. To effectively communicate messages on these important issues, it is important to make the most of this media dialogue,”she said.

She named the objectives of the media dialogue to include:”Identify and discuss the sources of misinformation about COVID-19 and polio, and its associated risks;Examine different strategies for reporting COVID-19 misinformation and polio vaccination, and dispelling myths and Provide guidance on how to use evidence-based resources and best practices when reporting on COVID-19, polio response, and routine immunization.”