Maternal Mortality: Quality Medication Could Reduce Nigeria’s Rate By 50%


Assuming that Nigeria is able to ensure a continuous access to quality maternal medicines, the maternal mortality rate could be reduced by almost 50 percent as postpartum haemorrhage is responsible for the highest number of preventable maternal deaths in the country.

Dr. Kayode Afolabi, Director, Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health, mentioned this during a policy dialogue that was themed, ‘Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships to Improve Access to Quality Maternal Medicines’ organised by the Nigeria Health Watch. Dr. Afolabi explained that constant access to quality maternal medicines would also prevent deaths from eclampsia and preeclampsia, two conditions that also constitute to over 40% of preventable maternal deaths and is critical to Nigeria’s attainment of universal health coverage (UHC).

According to him, since over 60 percent of reproductive and maternal health services are accessed in the private sector, an effective private-public partnership could also ensure equitable access to quality maternal health. He stated that in the past, an effective private-public partnership had proved effective in ensuring improved coverage of family planning commodities and a few maternal medicines, including the misoprostol in the country.

Although quality maternal health medicines would ensure the provision of comprehensive, emergency obstetric and newborn care, Dr. Afolabi also stated that the availability of skilled birth attendants, data on the quantity and quality of maternal medicines needed, charting a course for private-public partnership and capacity strengthening for the appropriate cadre of care provider are required to translate this into access for women who need them.

Mrs. Vivian Ihekweazu, Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch, said that Nigeria’s high maternal mortality rate has not provoked a heightened sense of urgency and the main thing was to look at how the private sector can really be a key partner in mitigating maternal medicines challenges while using this advocacy platform to really highlight the importance and awareness about quality maternal medicines.

According to Mrs. Ihekweazu, “Nigeria is the second contributor to maternal deaths in the world. One of the factors for this is the quality of medicines that women have access to at their bedside. When we think about maternal health, we have to think about women ultimately. It’s got to be safe; it must be effective and efficient when we talk about quality. The woman and children or family may have access to healthcare, but unless it is quality and it’s focused on a patient at the centre, the outcomes are severely impacted.”

“But then, there are issues that actually impact that medicine; not just from the procurement of medicine, but the whole supply chain, to when the medicine reaches the health facility is very critical in ensuring that the quality of medicine is maintained. Ensuring that we have access to quality medicines is a key factor in achieving UHC. And not just about the quality of medicine, but also the cost of those medicines.”