By; ADEBOYE ADO, Akure
No fewer than 82,000 Nigerian women die annually due to pregnancy-related problems and child bearing difficulties, a group, ‘Maternal and Reproductive Health Research Collective (MRHRC), today.
Its founder and chairperson, Prof. Bosede Afolabi, described the mortality rate as the highest in the work, urging government and other stakeholders to intensify reproductive health campaigns to sensitise women, particularly rural communities.
Afolabi, a professor of Gynecology, said: “These distressing figures continue to rise each year, despite the fact that the majority of these deaths are preventable.
“This year, we have developed an intervention aimed at combating this crisis, and with support, we aspire to provide safe delivery for 5,000 pregnant women in Lagos. By doing so, we can collectively reduce maternal mortality by five per cent within the coming year.”
Afolabi spoke with reporters in Lagos on the NGO’s plan to raise N100 million between now and month end in aid of pregnant women and to enhance safe delivery. With her at the press conference were other medical experts and partners, including Dr. Mobolanle Balogun, Prof. Abide Gbadegesin of the University of Lagos, Akoka, Abena Annah, Sterling Bank Head of Retail Banking, Temitayo Etomi, founder of Redwire Marketing Group, and Seyi Oyewoye of I-Fitness.
Afolabi, who said the group’s goal is to reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria by 30 per cent by 2030, added that donations from public spirited individuals, organisations and government will be used to train healthcae workers and pay for consistent antenatal care and safe delivery.
Balogun, an associate professor of Public Health, University of Lagos, lamented that the country has an abysmally high rate of mortality, standing at 30 per cent, which is the highest in the world, adding that the gap between Nigeria and others is wide.
She said: “Pregnancy should not be a death sentence. High mortality is a great loss to the community and the nation which is endangered.”
Highlighting the causes, she attributed the high statistics to haemorrhage during delivery, obstructed labour, infection after delivery and high blood pressure.
Balogun added: “Access to health facilities is a problem in rural areas, contrary to WHO’S recommendation. People trek far distance to get health care. The quality of care is a problem. There is lack of skilled birth attendants at home and hospitals.
Also, cultural reasons prevent women from seeking care. “Poverty is a problem; 70 per cent of Nigerians live below poverty line. It affects their ability to access healthcare. Lack of information is a problem about preparation for pregnancy, what to eat during pregnancy and where to go.”
MRHRC Executive Director, Funke Iroko, said the focus of the initiative are indigent women and girls who should have access to quality health care.
She stressed:”The focus are indigent women with low economic status. We will approach it with research, advocacy and intervention. The research should be participatory, working with stakeholders who are direct beneficiaries. On intervention, we work on solutions,based on research.”
Prof. Gbadegesin said illness and death resulting from child delivery has been worrisome, adding that it is unacceptable.
He disclosed that the association of gynaecologists has been organising seminars to update the knowledge and skills of members on the best way of reducing the high mortality.
Gbadegesin said: “People should be urged to make use of facilities provided by the government at the local government. Government should also take care of roads in the communities to facilitate access.”