News / Africa

    Maternal Deaths of Concern in Nigeria

    Mothers with their newborn babies in a Lagos hospital, (file photo) (AP).Mothers with their newborn babies in a Lagos hospital, (file photo) (AP).
    x
    Mothers with their newborn babies in a Lagos hospital, (file photo) (AP).
    Mothers with their newborn babies in a Lagos hospital, (file photo) (AP).
    Heather Murdock
    ABUJA - Globally, the number of maternal deaths has been cut in half since 1990.  But, in Nigeria 40,000 women die each year because of pregnancy complications.  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.  
     
    A United Nations study 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.
     
    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.
     
    Bukola Danmusa is the mother of three who lives in a rundown neighborhood outside the capital.  She says many women do not go to the hospital because it's too expensive.
     
    "Some people don’t have money to go the hospital to do [pre-natal care] and the results are complications or death when they have their baby," said Danmusa.
     
    She says, even if they go, to a hospital, there is usually no doctor and perhaps a single nurse.
     
    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.  She says, sometimes when women in isolated villages need to go to the hospital for emergency care during delivery, the quickest available transportation could be on a donkey or a motorcycle or by foot.

    "There are no helicopters to come and fish her out if she is bleeding," said Obinya. "There are no cars to flash out. The places they live in there may just be transport once a week, on market days."
     
    Obinya says, 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 says high maternal death rates are also a result of child marriage and social pressure to have many babies, both common in some parts of Nigeria.  She says many women believe that hospitals are only for problem pregnancies and feel pressure not to burden their husbands with the costs.
     
    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.

    "On her way home she just collapses so her friends who brought her now rushes her to the hospital, but it is too late. I've seen so many girls die like that," she said.
     
    She 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.
     
    Hellen Akujohnson, a teacher and mother of four, says health care for pregnant women would also improve if policies already in place were enforced. She says the local government has promised free care for pregnant women and their babies until they are five years old.
     
    However, she says, at most hospitals, care is not free because workers fleece patients for illegal fees.

    "They extort money from women, collect things from them, get money from them [to] buy material things - the hospital workers who collect it from them - whereas it’s supposed to be free," said Akujohnson.
     
    Doctors also say low salaries for medical professionals create a disincentive to work in remote rural areas.  Dr. Habiba Suleiman is a general practitioner with three children.  She says the government should pay doctors enough to convince them to serve where they are needed most.

    "Doctors should have enough salaries that should excite them and make them want to go down to go the rural areas because this is really the primary health care centers where you can catch this patient early enough," said Suleiman.
     
    Early this month, Nigerian officials fired nearly 800 doctors who were on strike against low wages. Suleiman says, in addition to better salaries, Nigeria needs to train more female doctors, because they will pay close attention to the needs of mothers.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.