Pregnancy can be a joyous time for expectant mothers, but in Nigeria, it can also be a time of great concern. Maternal mortality remains a significant problem in the country, with many pregnant women facing challenges when it comes to accessing quality healthcare.
According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with an estimated 576 deaths per 100,000 live births, while approximately 262,000 babies die at birth every year. Many of these deaths are preventable, but the lack of access to quality healthcare and adequate prenatal care means that many women are not receiving the care they need.
“Maternal health in Nigeria is still a major challenge, and it requires urgent attention from the government and healthcare providers,” says Dr. Fatima Ibrahim, a gynecologist at a hospital in Lagos. “There is a lack of awareness about the importance of prenatal care, and many women do not have access to skilled healthcare providers during childbirth.”
One of the main factors contributing to maternal mortality in Nigeria is a lack of access to skilled healthcare providers during childbirth. Many women in rural areas do not have access to hospitals or clinics, and even when they do, the quality of care may be inadequate. This can result in complications during childbirth, which can be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby.
“Pregnant women in rural areas often have to travel long distances to reach a hospital or clinic, and even when they do, the healthcare providers may not have the necessary skills and training to manage complicated deliveries,” says Dr. Ibrahim. “This can lead to delays in treatment and increase the risk of maternal mortality.”
Another issue is a lack of awareness about the importance of prenatal care. Many pregnant women in Nigeria do not receive regular prenatal care, which can help identify potential complications early on and improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.
“I didn’t know the importance of prenatal care when I was pregnant with my first child,” says Ella Osasere, a pregnant woman from Edo who spoke to Pottage of Health on her childbirth experience. “I only went to the hospital when I was in labor, and I had complications during delivery. I was lucky to survive, but my baby didn’t make it.”
To address these challenges, the Nigerian government and healthcare organizations are working to improve access to healthcare for pregnant women, particularly in rural areas. This includes training more skilled healthcare providers, providing more funding for healthcare infrastructure especially the primary health care centres (PHC) and raising awareness about the importance of prenatal care.
“We are working with local communities and traditional birth attendants to increase awareness about the importance of prenatal care and to encourage women to seek care early in their pregnancies,” says Dr. Ibrahim. “We are also training more midwives and nurses to provide skilled care during childbirth and to manage complications when they arise.”
Ultimately, improving maternal health in Nigeria will require a sustained effort and a commitment to addressing the root causes of the problem. By providing better access to quality healthcare, increasing awareness about prenatal care, and improving the overall health infrastructure, Nigeria can work towards reducing maternal mortality and ensuring that all women have access to the care they need during pregnancy and childbirth.
“Maternal health is a human right, and it’s important that every woman has access to quality healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth,” says Dr. Ibrahim. “We need to work together to ensure that every woman in Nigeria can have a safe and healthy pregnancy.”