Paul Obi in Abuja
Following the increasing cases of maternal and newborn related deaths in Nigeria, the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) Thursday said the task of giving birth to children should not be a death sentence in the country.
The body lamented the rise in maternal and newborn deaths in Nigeria, stating that childbirth should not be another licence to death.
According to WAHO, available records showed that about 15,000 women in the country die annually during childbirth.
The Director-General of WAHO, Prof. Stanley Okolo, made this known at a health conference on maternal and newborn child health jointly organised in Abuja by the federal government and WAHO.
Okolo argued that: “Undue delays in seeking and delivering medical attention especially during childbirth, inadequate funding, low manpower capacity, poor health infrastructure, and weak systems were some of the factors responsible for the alarming rate of maternal and newborn child deaths in the country.
“An increased budgetary allocation to the health sector as well as the articulation of relevant policies and programmes by stakeholders would deliver success.”
Okolo maintained that: “Childbirth should not be a death sentence in Nigeria. About 15,000 women die annually during childbirth. It is no longer acceptable, and we have to do something about it.
“One thing to note is that there is a critical and urgent need for increased budgetary allocation to health. We seem to forget that most people in Nigeria seek healthcare out of their pocket.
“But that denies poor people access. Health is a key factor that drives productivity. Countries that seek to improve their GDP must make sure their citizens are healthy.”
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, informed participants government’s commitment and political will to priortise and improve health or maternal and newborn children.
He said: “Due to cultural variations, Nigeria, just like other countries in the sub-region and around the world, may require varying strategies in delivering evidence-based, cost-effective health interventions, because strategies that work in one part, may need modifications for successful implementation in other parts of the country.
“In recognition of the desire for research to shape policies on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH), the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), our regional body for health in sub-Saharan Africa, made research a priority in its 2016-2020 Strategic Plan.”
According to Enahire, “The objective of the project is to improve the demand for generation and utilisation of research results for decision making in maternal, newborn and child health programmes and policies in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal, with financial support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada.”