News / Africa

Nigeria Tackles Maternal Mortality

New midwives prepare for their assignments. (VOA / S. Elijah)New midwives prepare for their assignments. (VOA / S. Elijah)
x
New midwives prepare for their assignments. (VOA / S. Elijah)
New midwives prepare for their assignments. (VOA / S. Elijah)
For many women in Nigeria, a country with one of the highest maternal death rates in the world, the prospect of giving birth can be scary.
 
According to the U.N. children’s organization, UNICEF, more than 150 women die every day in pregnancy-related cases in Nigeria, an average of one death every 10 minutes.
 
It’s no wonder many pregnant women worry about coming out of the hospital or clinic alive.
 
“I asked my family members to embark on prayers for me,” says Eldina Istifanus, a mother of two. “I am sure that is why I am alive today.
 
“I almost died of childbirth complications during my first delivery,” she says. “I was afraid during my second delivery. I remembered my first experience and the experience of my friends who died in the process.”
 
Despite her fears, Istifanus counts herself lucky because she was in a private clinic.
 
“The situation is very bad in public hospitals,” she says. “The workers are not motivated and emergency services are almost absent. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had gone there.”
 
Even though Nigeria’s maternal mortality statistics are among the world’s worst, doctors say the situation may be more dire than numbers indicate. Because the country has no standardized recordkeeping practices in rural communities and settlements — places where women rarely visit a hospital or clinic for pre-natal care or delivery — many pregnancy-related deaths, doctors say, are preventable.
 
What’s worse: While many of Nigeria’s public hospitals are ill-equipped and under-staffed, rural areas have few health facilities to speak of.
 
Possible national solutions
 
Pregnant women receiving health talks in Kaduna, Nigeria. (VOA / S. Elijah)Pregnant women receiving health talks in Kaduna, Nigeria. (VOA / S. Elijah)
x
Pregnant women receiving health talks in Kaduna, Nigeria. (VOA / S. Elijah)
Pregnant women receiving health talks in Kaduna, Nigeria. (VOA / S. Elijah)
Some say the ability to save lives is simply a matter of government agencies making it a top priority.
 
According to Dr. Ado Muhammad, executive director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Nigeria is working hard to address the problem.
 
Officials in Abuja, he says, have just hired an additional 6,000 midwives and health workers to curb the nation’s maternal death rate under the Midwives Service Scheme.
 
“Under the scheme, newly qualified, unemployed and retired midwives are engaged and sent to undertake one or two years [of] community service in selected rural communities,” he said, explaining that the new hires will join 4,000 others already serving rural areas.
 
“The lives of about 1.2 million expectant women — or nine million people — would be saved under the scheme by 2015,” he said.
 
The government is also working to pay pregnant women the equivalent of about $35 for at least four pre-natal health checkups, plus childcare support services.
 
“Our goal is to make pregnancy safer,” he said.
 
Two weeks ago President Goodluck Jonathan launched a program called ‘Saving One Million Lives’ to ensure sustainable and equitable access and use of 13 lifesaving commodities to women and children by 2015.
 
The program is part of U.N. Secretary-General’s Global Strategy to save 16 million lives by 2015 through increasing access to essential medicines that will address avoidable causes of death during pregnancy, childbirth and childhood. 
 
Jonathan said his “administration has set aside $500 million for procurement of reproductive health commodities over the next four years.”
 
The 13 commodities include misoprostol for addressing post-partum haemorrhage and injectable antibiotics for newborn sepsis.
 
State government interventions
 
A number of Nigeria's state governments are opening primary health-care clinics and offering free medical services to pregnant women and children under the age of five.
 
In Kaduna state, Health Commissioner Turaki Khalid says the program has increased demand for health care.
 
“More than five million pregnant women and children below the age of five years have benefitted from the program introduced in 2007,” he said.
 
But Dorcas Adeyemi, an activist for maternal health care, says the state government needs to get new laws passed.
 
“Most of these state governments are running this program without the required laws to back them up,” Adeyemi said. “They should be more committed by enacting laws that support it.”
 
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a project called the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) that is working with the Nigerian government to reduce maternal deaths.
 
Kabir Abdullahi, leader of the Gates project in Kaduna state, says even helping women space out their births through enlightenment and provision of family planning services can reduce maternal deaths by as much as 30 percent.
 
“We are encouraging state governments in Nigeria to create budget lines for family planning commodities and services to reduce the country’s high maternal and child deaths,” Abdullahi said.
 
Current efforts indicate that Nigeria is making progress in reducing its maternal mortality rates, but the pace is too slow for the country to attain the Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal mortality by a third by 2015.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Life for African Mothers from: Cardiff Wales
November 02, 2012 9:00 AM
We are so pleased to hear about countries in West Africa improving maternal health access and valuing the women in their societies more. Maternal mortality has greatly improved in Sierra Leone with the introduction of free healthcare for pregnant women
www.lifeforafricanmothers.org

by: Charity from: Abuja
October 30, 2012 5:34 AM
The recent commitment of the federal government is very commendable. The states and local governments should further ensure that quality services actually reach the poor in the communities, where most of the maternal deaths occur. They must employ more midwives for the public facilities. The fact is that most Nigerian women need the public facilities to give them the much desired services. The situation, as it is now, is beyond rhetorics. States and local government chief executives must act to save more lives in the communities. Investment in maternal health and family planning is a major step for Nigeria’s development.

by: littleyan from: china
October 29, 2012 8:58 AM
may this would help

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs