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‘Maternal, child mortality still alarming in Benue’

The Network of Religious Leaders Living With/Affected by HIV/AIDS (NINERELA+) has raised an alarm over the high rate of maternal and child mortality in Benue…

The Network of Religious Leaders Living With/Affected by HIV/AIDS (NINERELA+) has raised an alarm over the high rate of maternal and child mortality in Benue State.

The state coordinator of NINERELA, Dr Abigail Fanengiri, raised the alarm while speaking with journalists in Makurdi during the flag-off campaign on Universal Access to Maternal and Child Health among Religious Women Leaders in Benue State.

Fanengiri said NINERELA, in conjunction with the state’s Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MOWASD), wanted religious women leaders to use their various platforms to step up awareness about maternal health issues at the grassroots so as to tame the trend of high mortality.

“In Benue, maternal and child mortality is alarming. I do not have the exact statistics because there are no records but it’s high. 

The issues about maternal and child health are worrisome. You can imagine, mothers giving birth at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps on the bare floor,” she said.

Also, the state’s Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Tabitha Igirigi, emphasised the high rate of maternal and child mortality in the state.

“Mortality is high,’ she said.

Represented by the Director of Women Affairs in the ministry, Mrs Dooshima Ageh, the commissioner expressed worry over teething challenges with maternal and child health in the state.

She added, “It’s painful that in the 21st century, there are still teething problems with maternal health. In this era, we shouldn’t be talking about women dying or having issues related to childbearing.”

The commissioner, therefore, charged the religious women organisations – Muslims and Christians – to use the opportunity of the campaign to promote pregnant women’s access to Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities nearest to them.

She said though there had been an improvement from a survey carried out in 2003 which ranked Benue State highest with maternal health issues in the country, however, there is a need to step up sensitisation as the problem still remains.

The commissioner pointed out three major delays to include, the attitude of health caregivers, delay in going to hospitals and delay in finding transport as the basic findings of the survey which continued to rank the state high in maternal health issues.

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