Nigeria’s high maternal mortality rate
THE Country Representative of the United Nations (UN) Population Fund in Nigeria (UNFPA Nigeria), Ulla Mueller, recently bemoaned Nigeria’s high maternal mortality rate which is rated at the third highest in the world. According to her, discrimination and gender-based violence limited access to healthcare and education, while unequal economic opportunities impeded women and girls’ progress. She said: “We continue to live in a world replete with gender inequality, and we are witnessing renewed attacks on women’s rights,including basic healthcare services, particularly sexual and reproductive health. Complications associated with pregnancy and labour continue to be the leading cause of maternal mortality. Nigeria has the third highest maternal mortality rate in the world. The consideration of women’s rights and, in particular, sexual and reproductive health and choices, the right to decide if, when and how many children we want is of utmost importance. We must ensure that everyone has the right to make decisions regarding their reproductive health.”
Mueller described access to family planning information and services as a human right and a prerequisite for a sustainable future for all people To unleash the power of gender equality, she said, the country must eliminate the obstacles that prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential. Ms Mueller made this known through a statement by the UNFPA’s spokesperson, Kori Habib, in Abuja, ahead of the 2023 World Population Day. She averred that detrimental social norms, stereotypes and unequal power dynamics that perpetuated discrimination and limited women and girls’ potential must also be addressed.
The figures are really distressing: over 60 percent of women who go through the process of childbirth in the country risk losing their lives, with Ebonyi State reportedly presenting the worst case scenario. This is definitely unacceptable and it must be redressed by all means. Beginning from the primary level, healthcare in the country has been soaked in the corruption of parlous budgets and poor implementation, especially in terms of personnel, drugs and facilities. Muller’s submission should certainly be of serious concern to the government and indeed all Nigerians as it describes the gory state of living for many Nigerians, particularly women and girls.
The UNFPA Nigeria’s Country Representative posited that complications associated with pregnancy and labour had led to avoidable deaths, making reproduction such a harrowing and death-dealing experience in the country. Evidently, the state of medical and hospital services has been worsening, not to talk of the dwindling level of actual living by most Nigerians. In this situation, guaranteeing a modicum of decent existence is virtually an unrealisable venture. This is a damning commentary on the country which reflects the suboptimal existence of many citizens. It raises questions about the existence of government and governance structures in the country and the associated expropriation of funds for their activities. What really has been the essence of governance in Nigeria if it has only been supervising the increasing deaths of citizens, especially in the area of reproduction, at a rate that is one of the worst in the world? Why should government and governance in Nigeria produce maternal and other deaths at a monumental level?
The case, we believe, has been made for comprehensive attention to the processes of governance in the country. It must be more responsible and responsive to human survival and guarantee decent living for most Nigerians. In the absence of such an urgent realignment of the purpose of government and governance, life will continue to be unworthy and rather meaningless in the country. And one way to measure such decline is to give attention to the rate of maternal mortality in the county.