2nd December, 2010
As the world marks the AIDS Day yesterday to draw attention to the dreaded HIVÂ virus, another issue that should be of concern to the world community, and indeedÂ those of us in Nigeria, is the increasing maternal mortality rate.
Raising the alarm is no less a person than the Chairman of the Governing Board ofÂ the Lagos Island Maternity Centre, Dr. Abiola Balogun.
The maternal health expert lamented that one in nine women who die in pregnancy orÂ child birth worldwide is a Nigerian.
According to him, maternal mortality rate remains high in Africa and more women dieÂ in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world.
This alarm should be taken seriously by those charged with the health of pregnantÂ women and women, generally. Health officials at the national, state and localÂ government levels should respond promptly to this claimÂ by coming up with measuresÂ to stem the rising tide in the death of pregnant women.
These deaths occur either before, during or after delivery. In some cases, both theÂ mother and the unborn child lose their lives in complications which develop beforeÂ or during pregnancy. Sometimes, these deaths have to do with poor nutrition by theÂ women and lack of basic health education. It could also be due to abortion,Â infection, haemorrhage or obstructed labour.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also traced these deaths to undue delays inÂ seeking medical help during pregnancy and the post partum period.
It is sad that 15 years after the Beijing conference during which women activistsÂ all over the world called for concerted effort to address the scourge of highÂ maternal mortality rate, the situation is getting worse.
It is our contention that the federal government should take up the gauntlet to stemÂ this rise in maternal mortality rate. There is little the state and localÂ governments can do to stem the tide. If the federal authorities can lead the way,Â the state and local governments can take a cue from them to put an end to theÂ untimely death of women.
We are calling for federal intervention because of the huge resources needed toÂ provide basic health care for pregnant women and their unborn babies.
It is high time a massive health campaign is launched to sensitise women on thisÂ issue and measures taken to avoid pregnancy-related deaths.
Like Dr. Balogun suggested, we implore women to take more seriously ante-natalÂ treatment during pregnancy.
There is also the need for the government to upgrade health facilities for pregnantÂ women in the country. Specially-designated health centres should be established forÂ pregnant women in all health institutions to stem maternal deaths.
More health personnel should be trained in the care of pregnant women while drugsÂ should be provided in the health centres to prevent these avoidable deaths.