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Avoiding avoidable deaths among pregnant women in Nigeria

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Who will save the pregnant Nigerian women in Nigeria from dying through avoidable deaths? Many of them don't think towards this direction. But it is true! Many of them see the undefined 'Satanic' gender equality as their best problem, while a few of them see the child/maternal mortality rate as their major problem. The later, without doubt, is a very big problem besetting the Nigerian families, not only the women, if Nigerians didn't know. And stoical measures should be put in place to stem this ugly situation.


Child/maternal mortality are not a magnum opus that every day nearly every home in Nigeria should share in. It was appalling to note that about ten percent of 600,000 women that died in 2008 from mortality related cases are Nigerian women. Which implied that ten Nigerian women died every day? And who knows the number that died in 2009 and those that are going to die in 2010 if a survey done by the United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA) could state that the maternal mortality rate worsened from 1350/100,000 of lives birth in 2003 to 1380/100,000 in 2006?


However, while hypertension, bleeding and infections have been linked as major causes of maternal mortality in Nigeria, is it not better the increase in mortality rate be attributed to weak and poor primary health care system in Nigeria? Very few health centres in Nigeria, can boast of competent staff in a well adequate environment with every drugs and equipments in place. As a result of this ineptitude and lack, the Nigerian leaders who were supposed to equip these health centres but have failed, only resort to flying their pregnant wives to overseas, with their loots, where equipments expected to be in health centres are, for safe delivery, thereby abandoning those pregnant wives who cannot afford the abroad trip to their fate.


That was not even a big issue, to say. The big issue is that Nigeria as a sovereign state is still gasping for regular electricity supply in the 21st Century, an era when virtually every activity man does have gone digital. And these hospitals are not excluded from the darkness age Nigeria is experiencing. Many people are operated in the theatre with candle lights and kerosene lamps, in an attic environment. Rarely do the medical operatives give special courtesy to human life, which has led to many deaths in their hospitals, with somebody attributing the deaths to hypertension, bleeding and infections, in a case it were labouring women.


What death could it be called when a man or an un-pregnant woman dies in the Nigerian hospital? The fact remains that people are dying every day in the Nigerian hospitals and the causes of their deaths are being attributed to one problem or another, without pointing to the root of it all – Assumption. Did the late Gani Fawehinmi not say it publicly that the Nigerian doctors diagnosed him of 'cold' whereas he was dying of cancer of the colon when he later travelled to overseas and the doctors there told him? What about other unsung Nigerians? Why should a pregnant woman die in Nigeria six months before delivery? It is a mindsore!


Somebody might say that the level of illiterate women in Nigeria is up to 60% and that maternal mortality varies from one region to another and that the poor attendance of antennal care by illiterate pregnant women is poor and that one third pregnant women deliver in the hospital, but how many experts have told Nigerians what happened to the understaffed hospitals and low equipped hospitals and low medical awareness in Nigeria?


Imagine that in the South West of Nigeria, experts said that the lowest ratio of mortality there is 165 per 100,000 live births. They said that what that meant is this, if there is100,000 live births in South west, 165 of the mothers will die; 285 in the South East while it is 100,000 out of 285 in the North West. In North East, which was said has the highest of this unprintable rate, it is 1,549 per 100,000 live births deliveries. That signifies that out of 100,000 live birth deliveries, 1,500 women die during child birth. This survey was by February this year. So, the question is: what happened in a country like Sweden that the chance of a woman dying during pregnancy is one in 28,800?


Apart from the understaffed and the ill-equipped hospitals in Nigeria, one major problem to tackle among Nigerian medical operatives is assumption, as the case of Gani revealed. There should be low cost of medical bills to pregnant women. Antenatal care delivery should be free. Poverty should not be a yardstick to take young women into early family planning. Illiteracy has nothing to do with a pregnancy. The doctor should be a pregnant woman's guardian, since the doctor is educated. People should not embezzle money meant for equipping hospitals. Lives of every Nigerian should be paramount to any medical doctor. Money should not be an issue before treatment is administered to any ailing Nigerian. The medical doctors should not conduct caesarean operation when they see that a woman in labour can deliver safely. Medical doctors should not conduct this operation to make more money. The issue of embarking on strike should not be in the Nigerian medial professionals' diary. And if they must, it should be on the ground of dialogue, with many protests through write-ups. Every pregnant woman should make sure she is delivered of her baby by a trained doctor. The idea of delivering in the religious premises by faith should be eschewed. The life of any ailing Nigerian should be meaningful to any doctor, irrespective of creed or region. As a result, the maternal mortality rate in Nigeria will not be ten percent as it was in 2006, but one percent by the end of 2010.

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Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Author, the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State. Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: [email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Odimegwu Onwumere and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Odimegwu Onwumere