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The Threat of Infant and Maternal Mortality in Nigeria
Recently, I found myself at a popular place in Lagos State where a group of people crowded around the pavement, all beaming with joy and chattering about the miracle they were crowding around; a pregnant woman who had just given birth to a healthy baby boy on this side of the road by a passing obstetrician in an emergency delivery. The new mother was said to have been on her way to a traditional herbalist when she went into early labor before the doctor, who was on his way to his clinic, came to the woman’s aid in an event that thrilled the crowd.
About 37% of Nigerian women go to churches, local midwives and all kinds of professionally unskilled workers to deliver their babies. This is an alarming phenomenon as this group of mothers-to-be is at a higher risk of losing their baby as well as their own life due to complications that can unexpectedly become a problem before, during and after delivery as they can have fatal complications. . if not handled properly.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “Every day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 babies under the age of five and 145 women of reproductive age.” This makes the country one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. Infant and maternal mortality is the death of a child or mother due to diseases and other conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, childbirth, etc. In Nigeria, 1 in 13 pregnant women are at risk of dying from pregnancy and childbirth. a significant proportion of these deaths are preventable. Traditionally, the most common causes of maternal mortality in the world are childbirth complications, diarrhea, pneumonia, hypertension, dehydration; while infants can die from malnutrition, malaria, congenital anomalies, infection and sudden infant death syndrome.
Nigeria and many other third world countries are advertised as not so good places to give birth or actually raise a child, mainly because of the harsh economic conditions and shockingly low standards of hygiene. World Development Indicators (WDI) experts have argued that both issues threaten basic human rights. Analysis in recent years shows that while Nigeria has reduced its infant and maternal mortality rate, it is still not close to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of reducing the dire situation by a third by the end of 2015. Beneath all these claims and statistics lies the psychological trauma of thousands of families who have lost children, wives and mothers to this preventable calamity.
So why is the maternal to infant mortality ratio still relatively high in Nigeria? The overarching problem must be the stagnant health care system in the country, which has been marred by inadequate facilities and equipment. The head nurse of Ilasa Public Health Center (PHC) said, “Staff (personnel) contribute money from their own pockets to pay PHCN officials whenever they come for disconnection (power supply); we still use lanterns and torch lights. in the work rooms”. In 2013, only 30 public health centers (PHCs) were assessable in Lagos; while of the 30 PHCs, almost all were unable to deal with postpartum haemorrhage, one of the leading causes of maternal mortality (ThisDay, April 2014). Incessant strikes by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and lack of palliative care in emergencies are another cause of this misfortune, but it can also be traced to the government’s commitment to an adequate health care system. Other equally dangerous reasons may be socio-cultural factors, mainly illiteracy and poverty, which have contributed to the existence of harmful traditional practices.
Experts associate a country’s level of development with its maternal and infant mortality rate (Ng raksti, 2013). Thus, the lower the rate at which this occurs, the higher the country’s growth. Therefore, this goal – to reduce the mortality rate – is a national priority. Children and mothers die because those who are supposed to prevent it do not act or are not determined enough to make significant improvements; the government and health care professionals do not encourage pregnant women to attend antenatal clinics early enough, especially in rural areas. Rural areas should be a special area of interest as they require a lot of orientation towards harmful traditional health practices. Midwives should also receive ongoing education on safe childbirth.
The total disregard and sad disrespect for human life should no longer be tolerated; a woman has no right to die giving life, and an infant should not be deprived of life because of our lax attitude towards their well-being. We must support our commitment with the necessary actions to alleviate this terrible condition facing mothers and babies.
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