MATERNAL HEALTH AS THE MOST IMPORTANT HEALTH ISSUE FACED BY WOMEN AND YOUNG PEOPLE IN NIGERIA
Maternal mortality refers to death during pregnancy, childbirth or within 42 days after giving birth. Although maternal mortality is a reality in every region of the world, Nigeria estimates about 40000 maternal deaths which are 14% of the global total. Statistics say that 109 women die each day, this bears not just on development but on human rights (right to live, right to health and right to equality/non-discrimination).
The time of pregnancy is a delicate time for each of the close to 10million women and girls who become pregnant in Nigeria annually. Women usually have a 50:50 ratio of death and survival during this period. This is why utmost care during this time cannot be overemphasized. Most of the things that cause these deaths are preventable but due to weak health systems, heavy bleeding, infection/sepsis, unsafe abortions, eclampsia, malaria, anemia, etc, the death rate is steadily increasing. The unmet needs for family planning is also a factor that contributes to 80% percent of these deaths. Inequalities based on gender are the influence behind the decision of some women to not attend antenatal clinics. Some men claim they don’t appreciate male doctors to attend to their wives. This is the situation especially in the northern part of the country.
Despite numerous efforts of development partners and humanitarian organizations to tackle this problem, little attention and support are gotten from the government. It is now a matter of urgency for the government to focus and team up support with other stakeholders to combat this problem. The demise of a woman after giving birth not only affects her and the family structure but also the community at large. The community suffers economically, socially, psychologically and health-wise giving rise to a pile of challenges that are not easy to tackle. The deconstruction of a family institution generates into a one-parent household. Research shows that children raised by single parents are likely to engage in crimes and substance/drug abuse.
Changes in household management give rise to reduced parental care and possible neglect of children. This could inhibit the normal development of a child leaving lifelong challenges and problems. The lone parent may become suicidal because he has to be ‘strong/firm’ as the pressure of the additional duties would weigh heavily on him. He may eventually bow to the pressure of depression and other mental health issues.
Children who miss out on the compulsory one-year breastfeeding would be malnourished, and most times fail to get vaccinated. Malnourished coupled with poor hygiene has been found out to be one of the leading causes of cognitive deficiencies and low academic excellence which could eventually force these children to become dropouts preventing them to be able to secure a job reinforcing the poverty cycle.
Once children don’t develop properly, they become under-productive adults. Underdeveloped adult has little or nothing to contribute to the growth of their country.
Sustained commitment from the Nigerian government to invest long term, strengthen and support humanitarians that deal with MNCH programming. Policies that improve women’s and girl’s access to safe sexual and RH services should be put in place. .The government should engage stakeholders to lasting solutions to the deficiencies crippling the maternal health structures and systems, engage high-quality resource (human, material) for maternal health. The government can also work with NOA to create awareness ion the importance of antenatal during the term of pregnancy.