UN Study: Nigerian maternal mortality due to poverty, isolation and dangerous traditions

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Lagos: A United Nations study has revealed some jolting facts. The report indicates that a third of the women who die from childbirth yearly are in two countries: India, the world's second-most populated, and Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation.

In world scenario, the number of maternal deaths has been reduced to its half since 1990. But the pregnancy complication cases in Nigeria are of Parent Concern as 40,000 women die each year because of preventable pregnancy-related causes only in Nigeria. Aid organizations say poverty, isolation and dangerous traditions are the heart of the problem while some mothers say there are simply no doctors at the hospital.

The report says Nigeria also has the distinction of having one of the world's highest maternal death rates - 630 deaths for every 100,000 live births.     

United Nations Children's Fund health specialist Esther Obinya says women in rural areas often do not know the risks of pregnancy and are tended to by traditional birthing assistants who have no medical training.

Obinya adds, if a woman starts hemorrhaging during childbirth, she has only a couple of hours to be treated before she dies, causing 25 percent of Nigeria's maternal deaths.

She holds child marriage responsible for high maternal death rates and social pressure to have many babies, both common in some parts of Nigeria. 

Obinya notes that abortion is illegal in Nigeria, with the exception of when the woman's life is in danger. As a result, some girls get illegal abortions from quack doctors who tell patients they are fine and hurry them to the door.

Nigeria,   the oil-rich country has high maternal mortality rate because it has failed to implement and enforce its own policies on maternal health.  In Nigeria, pregnant women just hours from giving birth travel unprotected on motorbikes instead of ambulances.

Obinya says UNICEF and the Nigerian government are conducting massive awareness campaigns and training health care professionals across the country, hoping to cut the maternal death rate in half by 2015.
Earlier, Centre for Reproductive Rights had indicated that Nigeria needs to train more female doctors, because they will pay close attention to the needs of mothers.  
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