Hope for Preg­nant Women in Nige­ria

As Nige­ria joined the rest of the world to mark World Preg­nancy Week de­spite the coun­try’s poor ma­ter­nal health indices, MTN Foun­da­tion, through its Ma­ter­nal Ward Sup­port Pro­ject, hopes to change the nar­ra­tive as it sup­ports the ef­fort of the gov­ern­ment.


While many cou­ples suf­fer in­fer­til­ity in Nige­ria but con­tinue to nurse hope at get­ting preg­nant some­day, those who have been lucky at preg­nancy seems to nurse grow­ing fear over whether they will de­liver safely or not, es­pe­cially when con­sid­er­ing ma­ter­nal and child health indices in the re­gions they live in.

For in­stance, preg­nant women in de­vel­oped na­tions like the United States, Ger­many and Canada, where ma­ter­nal and new­born deaths are barely at the min­i­mum, of­ten have lit­tle fears to con­tend with, as there ex­ists high pos­si­bil­ity that they would most likely de­liver their ba­bies safe and sound, with their own health also in­tact.

But the same can­not be said of a de­vel­op­ing na­tion like Nige­ria where ma­ter­nal and new­born deaths still re­mains the high­est in Africa, and just sec­ond to In­dia glob­ally, leav­ing preg­nant woman at the mercy of what the coun­try’s health­care of­fers.

In fact, In­dia and Nige­ria, in all the al­most 200 na­tions of the world, ac­counts for one third of the global ma­ter­nal and new­born deaths in 2013, ac­cord­ing to a ma­ter­nal health ad­vo­cacy plat­form, www. ma­ter­nal­health.org

On specifics, over 52,000 Nige­rian women die yearly due to preg­nancy com­pli­ca­tions, de­liv­ery or post de­liv­ery com­pli­ca­tions, amount­ing to about 143 women dy­ing in the coun­try on a daily ba­sis, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the United States gov­ern­ment in 2016. Mak­ing Nige­ria one of the worst places in the globe to give birth.

Ma­ter­nal death is de­fined by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) as “the death of a woman while preg­nant or within 42 days of ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy, ir­re­spec­tive of the du­ra­tion and site of the preg­nancy, from any cause re­lated to or ag­gra­vated by the preg­nancy or its man­age­ment but not from ac­ci­den­tal or in­ci­den­tal causes.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2015 re­port from the WHO, ap­prox­i­mately 830 women die from pre­ventable causes re­lated to preg­nancy and child­birth every­day. And even more spe­cific rep­re­sen­ta­tion is pro­vided by United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Ed­u­ca­tion Fund (UNICEF), which re­ports that: “Ev­ery sin­gle day, Nige­ria loses about 2,300 chil­dren un­der five and 143 women of child­bear­ing age, mak­ing it the coun­try with the sec­ond largest con­trib­u­tor to un­der–five mor­tal­ity and ma­ter­nal death rate in the world. Also, for ev­ery 10 min­utes, one woman dies on ac­count of preg­nancy or child­birth in Nige­ria.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, death of new­born ba­bies in Nige­ria is said to rep­re­sent a quar­ter of the to­tal num­ber of deaths of chil­dren un­der five years. The ma­jor­ity of th­ese deaths re­port­edly oc­cur within the first week of life, mainly due to com­pli­ca­tions dur­ing preg­nancy and de­liv­ery, re­flect­ing the in­ti­mate link be­tween new­born sur­vival and the qual­ity of ma­ter­nal care.

With Nige­ria still lack­ing be­hind in solv­ing its poor ma­ter­nal and child health is­sues, even as it failed to meet the just ended tar­get given in the Mil­len­nium Devel­op­ment Goal 5 (MDG5), ex­perts have iden­ti­fied lack of ac­cess, af­ford­abil­ity and avail­abil­ity to qual­ity health­care; lack of aware­ness by the cit­i­zens on fam­ily plan­ning; and ap­a­thy among Nige­rian women to pa­tro­n­ise skilled health­care (in­clud­ing skilled birth at­ten­dants) as the ma­jor causal fac­tors for the abysmally poor ma­ter­nal and child health indices in the coun­try.

It is in tack­ling this and chang­ing the coun­try’s nar­ra­tive over ma­ter­nal indices that the Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary/ Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, MTN Foun­da­tion, Nonny Ug­boma, has called for col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts to­ward tack­ling the is­sue head on through the gov­ern­ment, cit­i­zens, well mean­ing Nige­ri­ans and cor­po­rate or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to her, “no woman de­serves to die dur­ing child­birth, as the process it­self should be a source of hap­pi­ness and not sad­ness to the society. With the es­tab­lish­ment of qual­ity health­care fa­cil­i­ties and the cit­i­zens’ will­ing­ness to pa­tro­n­ise them, the ma­ter­nal and new­born health indices will greatly im­prove.

“The lives of our moth­ers and their chil­dren are of great im­por­tance to us. The ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rate in Nige­ria, re­mains of great con­cern to ev­ery­one who cares.

As the world marks the Preg­nancy Week, we want to en­cour­age our preg­nant and nurs­ing moth­ers to take very good care of them­selves. They should reg­is­ter in health cen­tres near­est to them for ad­e­quate care and reg­u­lar check up by qual­i­fied med­i­cal per­son­nel.”

Ug­boma stated that the MTN Foun­da­tion has con­tin­ued to cham­pion causes to sup­port the re­duc­tion of ma­ter­nal deaths in the coun­try through its Ma­ter­nal Ward Sup­port Pro­ject which will cut across sev­eral states in the na­tion.

“At MTN Foun­da­tion, we are com­mit­ted to com­ple­ment­ing gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts in re­duc­ing ma­ter­nal child mor­tal­ity ra­tio. This in­forms our de­ci­sion to in­vest in the re­vamp­ing of some ma­ter­nal wards in Gen­eral Hos­pi­tals across the six geopo­lit­i­cal zones of the coun­try.

“We be­lieve that Nige­ria can over­come th­ese chal­lenges with the sup­port not only of pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions but also of pub­lic spir­ited in­di­vid­u­als and pri­vate or­gan­i­sa­tions; if we all show our com­mit­ment,” she said.

The first phase which has six ben­e­fi­ciary states in­clud­ing Sokoto, Kaduna, Niger, Abia, Cross River and Oyo have been com­pleted. A to­tal of 24 se­lected hos­pi­tals in th­ese states ben­e­fited this time.

For in­stance, Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, Shar­gari, (Sokoto), Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, Gwad­abawa (Sokoto), Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, La­pai (Niger), Jubrin Mai Gwari Hos­pi­tal, (Kaduna) and Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, Tabuwal (Sokoto) have taken own­er­ship of the ma­ter­nal wards equipped and ren­o­vated by the Foun­da­tion. Oth­ers in­clude the Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal Kafan­chan (Kaduna), Adeoyo Ma­ter­nity Hos­pi­tal, Ibadan (Oyo) and Ring Road State Hos­pi­tal Ibadan (Oyo).

Ug­boma ex­plained that the hos­pi­tals were equipped with ul­tra-mod­ern ex­ec­u­tive beds, in­cu­ba­tors among other fa­cil­i­ties, and were ren­o­vated to cre­ate a beau­ti­ful am­biance. The mod­ernised wards would con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to the re­duc­tion of ma­ter­nal and in­fant mor­tal­ity rate in the state and the na­tion as a whole.

“Each of the wards is equipped with 20 hos­pi­tal beds with car­diac rest, 20 stan­dard hos­pi­tal mat­tresses, 20 stan­dard hos­pi­tal bed pil­lows, 10 four-way fold­able ward screens, 20 me­tal bed­side cup­boards, 20 vis­i­tors’ chairs, 10 drip stands, 20 hy­draulic over-bed ta­bles, 10 height ad­justable baby cots and two Carl Novel baby in­cu­ba­tors,” she said.

The Foun­da­tion hopes to com­mence the sec­ond phase very soon with six other states ben­e­fit­ting from it.

“It is heart­warm­ing to note that ben­e­fi­ciary states thus far have shown their com­mit­ment and de­sire to pull their peo­ple out of the dol­drums of ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity as they con­tinue to drum their sup­port for the Foun­da­tion’s ini­tia­tive,” she noted.

For the Gov­er­nor of Sokoto State, Al­haji Aminu Tam­buwal who spoke through his Com­mis­sioner for Health, Dr. Balarabe Shehu Kakale Shuni, prox­im­ity to ac­cess­ing care is the most at­trac­tive in­cen­tive of the Foun­da­tion’s ges­ture.

“The Foun­da­tion, has brought health­care closer to our peo­ple, as preg­nant and nurs­ing moth­ers in Sha­gari Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area will not have rea­sons to travel as far as Sokoto cap­i­tal to ac­cess health­care thus min­imis­ing the stress and rigour that usu­ally come with such jour­ney for the mother as the gov­ern­ment. We thank MTN Foun­da­tion for be­ing a great friend and for bring­ing a world class in­ter­na­tional stan­dard ma­ter­nal ward to the grass root lo­cal gov­ern­ment,” he said.

Con­firm­ing the essence of close­ness to care, the Med­i­cal Di­rec­tor at the Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, La­pai, Niger State dur­ing the un­veil­ing of the ma­ter­nal ward at the hos­pi­tal said, “most of the preg­nant women go to other health fa­cil­i­ties to have their de­liv­ery and along the line some may have com­pli­ca­tions be­fore they come to the gen­eral hos­pi­tal. Some cases get to us at a very crit­i­cal stage, but we have al­ways tried our best to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion, un­for­tu­nately, some of th­ese cases may be­come fa­tal. But now, that will be re­duced greatly with this fa­cil­ity.”

Aside the fa­cil­i­ties pro­vided, ad­vo­cacy and ed­u­ca­tion are very key to re­duc­ing ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity. Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Funmi Son­eye, a Pead­tric Sur­geon at the Univer­sity Col­lege Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal (UCH) Ibadan, the moth­ers also needed to be well ed­u­cated

Preg­nant women

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