A Dean of School of Nursing Sciences, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo Ogun State, Prof. Christiana Sowunmi, yesterday, called for an improvement in the quality of and access to healthcare facilities, so as to reduce the rising maternal mortality rate in Nigeria.
Sowunmi who made this call, while delivering the 45th inaugural lecture of the institution titled ‘Plummeting Maternal Mortality Rate: An Uphill Task in Nigeria’, explained that healthcare resources needed by pregnant women should be made accessible at affordable rates to further cut down the maternal mortality rate in the country,
According to the Professor of Maternal and Child Health, “governments need to invest in material resources, infrastructural development, equipment and drugs for the adequate provision of basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric care in accordance with global standards.”
She stated that many of the pregnancy-related deaths will be preventable with effective, safe, patient-centred quality maternal and child healthcare services.
” While Nigeria makes up 2.4 per cent of the world’s population, it currently contributes 10 per cent of global maternal deaths placing it third behind South Sudan and Chad.
“A Nigerian woman has 1 in 22 lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum or post abortion compared with the lifetime risk of 1 in 4,900 in developed countries.”
The don attributed high maternal mortality to the non-attendance of antenatal care, unavailability of skilled birth attendants, aside inadequacy and quality of healthcare facilities during labour, as well as low maternal education and socio-cultural norms against women.
Sowunmi said these are compounded by patients’ non-compliance with recommended treatments and preference for traditional birth attendants.
She believes these sad narratives can be reversed if more women have access to quality healthcare facilities.
“Patient satisfaction is a strong indicator for healthcare quality. When patients are satisfied, they will return for institutional delivery rather than patronise traditional birth attendants or worse still, totally uninformed birth attendants.”
She recommended a four-point strategy to reduce Nigeria’s maternal mortality burden including; accessible and affordable healthcare; political will; harnessing of World Health Organisation ( WHO’s) provisions and upgrade of health personnel knowledge and skill.
“Reduction of maternal mortality rate is possible as documented in some pragmatic approaches undertaken by government for example the Abiye scheme of Ondo State.
“Governments in other southwestern states should replicate such schemes to reduce the menace in South-west Nigeria and Africa as a whole.”
She enjoined colleagues in the healthcare sector to continue to step up their research work so as to plummet the high rate of maternal deaths in Nigeria.