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Improving Maternal Healthcare in Nigeria: A Clarion Call

By Aishat M. Abisola

When one wonders about maternal health in Nigeria, it would be best to gain a quick understanding of it by not only looking at its global ranking, but the rate of maternal mortality as well.

Maternal health, as well as maternal healthcare, in Nigeria, is quite honestly, one of the worst in the world, and I believe that it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say so.

As much as it hurts me to say this, there have been absolutely no improvements (minimal at best) in maternal healthcare in Nigeria.

There are many ways to improve it but these methods are either not implemented or those who try to improve it are not being supported by those who know that their support can make a big difference, even if it isn’t monetary.

The maternal and infant mortality rate has only slightly decreased compared to how it was a decade or even 2 decades ago.

In a 2019 report by the World Health Organisation, Nigeria was quoted as a country where approximately 20% of all global maternal deaths occurred.

The report also said that the high number of maternal deaths showed the inequality in the access to health services

When I found out about this, I wasn’t even surprised.

The rate of doctors to patients in Nigeria is very high and can go from one doctor to maybe over a thousand patients.

Doctors won’t be able to focus on all of their patients due to how many they have which is one of the reasons that the maternal mortality rate is so high.

There are not enough doctors to look after the patients because the doctors leave for greener pastures.

The reason they leave is that the government won’t give them the appropriate compensation they deserve, especially after COVID-19 which put the world to a halt.

Anyway, the rate of maternal mortality keeps increasing despite the fact that many Nigerians try to prevent it.

Unlike other parts of the Nigerian health sector that have received little to no attention despite the efforts of both local and international organisations, maternal health is a facet of it that has received a lot of attention towards it but very few improvements over the years.

The rate of maternal mortality in other countries (even African countries) is much lower than that of Nigeria.

Hospital policies and laws have been put in place in those countries to reduce maternal mortality, and infant mortality and improve maternal health.

When I looked at the way other countries handled this issue, I was confused as to why Nigeria couldn’t do the same.

Why it is so hard for a country like Nigeria to deal with this?

Nigeria is a rich country with hardworking and determined citizens.

Why is it so difficult? It shouldn’t even be a problem.

It feels like a poorly written joke when you consider that a highly-populated country has a high rate of mortality.

As a Nigerian, this makes me feel bitter on the inside that reducing the rate of maternal mortality feels like a lost cause when it isn’t and it shouldn’t be.

This is an issue that needs serious correction.

How many more women will die?

How many more people will lose their family members? Their mothers? Their sisters? Their wives? Their friends?

It’s too much. It’s heartbreaking and traumatizing.

I implore whoever is reading this to do their research on maternal mortality in Nigeria and to also keep an eye for programmes, organisations, or events that are created to bring awareness to maternal mortality and give your support to them.

Your support can be monetary or it can be through your participation.

A little goes a long way and in this case, it will go more than a little way by saving lives.

Aishat M. Abisola is a member of the Society for Health Communication
Wuye District, Abuja
[email protected]