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Preventing birth-related mortalities

She decried the little attention that such challenges get in the media. “Bleeding after delivery is the greatest killer of women during pregnancy, but this…

She decried the little attention that such challenges get in the media. “Bleeding after delivery is the greatest killer of women during pregnancy, but this is not as widely reported as when a politician wins election,” she said.
She added that government at all levels does not give appropriate attention to the plight of pregnant women, noting that 40 percent of the deaths recorded could be prevented through healthy timing and child spacing awareness programmes.
Dr Sageer said that there was urgent need for enlightenment to enable mothers-to-be to properly understand the safe methods of family planning and to ensure adequate antenatal   healthcare.
The daily loss of 111 women to maternal mortality is indeed frightening. This sobering figure should be sufficient enough to spur the authorities to go beyond the sloganeering of ‘free’ medical care for children and pregnant women and provide the necessary infrastructure to make it a reality. The perennial campaign rhetoric of providing such facilities has not been matched by action, because the mortality figure says it all.
 Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report on the ‘Trends in maternal mortality: 1990-2013’, classifying Nigeria as one of 10 countries of the world that contribute about 60 per cent of the world’s maternal mortality burden.
In the rural areas, antenatal procedures are not properly followed, even where facilities are available. There is poor clerking and therefore the full information on patients’ health is not recorded to be consulted in case of emergency.
In many other places, poor equipment and structural problems are prevalent; even if pregnant women go there, they cannot get the medical attention that they require.
Traditional birth attendants (TBAs) are often seen to be more experienced at deliveries, particularly in remote rural areas where there are no health facilities within a short distance.
But primary healthcare is supposed to take care of such problems that today don’t seem to have any solution. This is because of the apparent lack of political will. This lack of will is exhibited in the conduct of politicians who neglect such basic facilities and prefer to take their wives state-of-the-art hospitals abroad to have their babies delivered there.
Part of addressing the problem was the introduction by the federal government of Midwives Service Scheme (MSS) a few years ago, under which   it employs midwives, including those that have retired, and deploys them to rural areas to help combat the rise in maternal mortality rates.  But the challenge is a huge one and cannot be completely addressed by this gesture alone.
With the recent signing of the Health Bill into law, the expectation is that the rural communities would be served better with the procurement and installation of standard equipment in health facilities.
The other challenge is access. Most rural roads are in a bad state, and seasonally impassable, making it difficult for pregnant women to go to the health centres.
Addressing the problem begins with the active involvement of local councils and state governments, which after all are provisioned with the wherewithal  to do so through their joint account.

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