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Need To Check Maternal Mortality Rate

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As the world marks the AIDS Day yesterday to draw attention to the dreaded HIV  virus, another issue that should be of concern to the world community, and indeed  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 of  the Lagos Island Maternity Centre, Dr. Abiola Balogun.

The maternal health expert lamented that one in nine women who die in pregnancy or  child birth worldwide is a Nigerian.

According to him, maternal mortality rate remains high in Africa and more women die  in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world.

This alarm should be taken seriously by those charged with the health of pregnant  women and women, generally. Health officials at the national, state and local  government levels should respond promptly to this claim  by coming up with measures  to stem the rising tide in the death of pregnant women.

These deaths occur either before, during or after delivery. In some cases, both the  mother and the unborn child lose their lives in complications which develop before  or during pregnancy. Sometimes, these deaths have to do with poor nutrition by the  women and lack of basic health education. It could also be due to abortion,  infection, haemorrhage or obstructed labour.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also traced these deaths to undue delays in  seeking medical help during pregnancy and the post partum period.

It is sad that 15 years after the Beijing conference during which women activists  all over the world called for concerted effort to address the scourge of high  maternal mortality rate, the situation is getting worse.

It is our contention that the federal government should take up the gauntlet to stem  this rise in maternal mortality rate. There is little the state and local  governments can do to stem the tide. If the federal authorities can lead the way,  the state and local governments can take a cue from them to put an end to the  untimely death of women.

We are calling for federal intervention because of the huge resources needed to  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 this  issue and measures taken to avoid pregnancy-related deaths.

Like Dr. Balogun suggested, we implore women to take more seriously ante-natal  treatment during pregnancy.

There is also the need for the government to upgrade health facilities for pregnant  women in the country. Specially-designated health centres should be established for  pregnant women in all health institutions to stem maternal deaths.

More health personnel should be trained in the care of pregnant women while drugs  should be provided in the health centres to prevent these avoidable deaths.

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