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Eradicating maternal mortality in Africa

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By Mercy Kelani

Nigeria accounts for almost 20 percent of global maternal deaths.

Across Africa, Nigeria has the highest maternal mortality rate. At the United Nations General Assembly, the 2023 Goalkeepers Report was launched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The report focuses on increasing the progress towards achievement of the SDGs, particularly Goals 1-6. The 2023 Goalkeepers Report is centred on maternal mortality, which is SDG 3.1. The report asserts that the death of any mother during childbirth reduces the baby’s chances of survival to their first birthday by 37 percent.

Maternal mortality is the death of a mother during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days after delivery. It is a problem caused by several factors, which include poverty, lack of professionalism, cultural barriers, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, restricted access to quality prenatal and postnatal care, ill-equipped personnel, and gender inequalities. The statistics of this mortality are alarming. Reports have it that Nigeria covers almost 20 percent of global maternal deaths as more than 59,000 women die as a result of childbirth complications, annually.

Healthcare infrastructure should be strengthened.

Currently, Nigeria and India accounts for 34 percent of the global maternal mortality rates. The rate of Nigeria in 2008 was at 14 percent, but as of recent, the rate is at 20 percent. Several factors such as insecurity, socio cultural barriers, lack of education, and others are responsible for the high ratio in Nigeria. In hundreds, Nigerian women lose their lives daily to preventable factors during childbirth. The statistics represent the daughters, mothers, sisters and friends in global communities.

It was stated that the time for action against the mortality is now. It is necessary that everyone collaborates to combat the root causes of this deaths and work towards creation of a healthier and safer environment for every mother in Africa; and it is paramount for Nigeria to take the lead. To make a difference, there are steps that have to be taken. One of such steps is to strengthen healthcare infrastructure through adequate healthcare facilities. Highly skilled medical professionals and well-equipped clinics are essential for prevention.

Early and comprehensive prenatal care is key.

Governments and stakeholders should ensure investment in the improvement of healthcare infrastructure for accessible and quality maternal healthcare services. There should also be promotion of education and empowerment. Educational programmes that centre on the health of women, reproductive rights, and family planning are essential to make a difference. Through empowerment of women with required resources and knowledge, they will be able to make informed decisions that concerns their reproductive health and seek medical care on time.

There should also be an enhancement of prenatal and postnatal care. Early and comprehensive prenatal care is pivotal to the identification and management of potential complications during pregnancy stage. It is also important to ensure the provision of adequate postnatal care to mothers, timely detection of any postpartum complications and well-being. Eradication of stigma and cultural barriers is also essential to making a difference. Most times, stigmas and deep-rooted cultural norms of childbirth impedes access to healthcare services.

Stigmas and cultural barriers should be broken.

Additionally, there is a need to challenge and dismantle cultural barriers to aid promotion of an inclusive and supportive environment that urges women to seek proper and timely care without fear of discrimination or judgement. It seems wrong to just watch several mothers die as a result of controllable situations. Founder of Every Mother Counts, Christy Turlington, emphasized the need for everyone to rally together, raise awareness, and effect change. Governments, healthcare providers, international organizations, communities and individuals have specific roles to play in putting an end to maternal mortality in Africa.

Related Link

Gates foundation: Website

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