Maternal Mortality and shameful statistics, stories of deaths
Recently, newspapers were awash with the devastating news that a Nigerian was hanged in Singapore for drug trafficking. He had been on death row for more than eight years for the same offence and after a life-wrenching eight year-wait in jail, he was finally hanged. I groaned at the waste of a young life.
Stories have it that he was a footballer. I am not about to psycho-analyze the reasons behind someone taking such a life-threatening risk like drug trafficking especially when in the past, we have read the news that the penalty for such a crime is death by hanging in that country. It is not the first time we have read of such a harrowing outcome for drug trafficking Nigerians in foreign lands but unfortunately and tragically, it may not be the last.
I keep wondering why anybody who is aware of the dangerous outcome of drug trafficking would still embark upon a calamitous attempt at money making by carrying hard drugs. It is the same reason I wonder why Nigeria’s contraceptive prevalence rate is low and our maternal mortality rate is high. It is the same reason I always wonder why adults who engage in unprotected sex fail to use contraceptives and the resulting unwanted pregnancies are resolved via unsafe abortions that ultimately increase Nigeria’s already alarmingly high maternal mortality rates.
Every time I come across a report or statement that presents catastrophic statistics of Nigeria’s health environment, I bleed within because behind every statistic is an appalling narrative and behind every story is a name. Sometimes, these stories are very close to home. They are not just numbers of nameless individuals on Nigeria’s demographic surveys. These are people. Human beings with life and blood. Individuals dying because society is yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving.
During the pregnancy with my first child, I had a friend who was equally pregnant but died few minutes after giving birth. Tragically, her baby died too. We lost mother and child. Her husband has not fully recovered from the tragedies because it was his first child. Another lady in my church was recently buried.
She was just thirty-one years old and married for only three years. Incidentally, the pregnancy was her first and she did not survive it. No woman should die while giving life. It is an anomaly that must stop. Families who are expecting good news should not be hounded with death news.
Parents expecting a grand child should not be drowned with the losses of not just the expected grandchild but their own daughter or daughter-in-law as well. Such tragedies should be fought on all fronts. Society must decide that the lives of these women are worth saving like Prof. Mahmoud Fathalla, past president of the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said: “Women are not dying of diseases we can’t treat… They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving.”
And I verily agree with him.
Maternal death is a serious challenge and everyone should be concerned because every statistic is someone’s mother or wife, sister or friend, neighbor or colleague. Every time we hear the phrase maternal mortality, we should be wary and worried because the death represents another loss for everyone. Every number in Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate is another tragedy, another sad story that could have been and should be avoided. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is the ratio of the number of maternal deaths during a given time per 100,000 live births during the same time-period. A maternal death refers to a female death from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes) during pregnancy and childbirth or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy.
Maternal Mortality may sound like a bogus term simply referring to maternal deaths but within those two words are the silent and untold miseries of many millions.
Many issues are responsible for Nigeria’s alarming maternal mortality rates. Most of the maternal deaths arise from poor family planning strategies and high-risk pregnancies, including young girls with obstructed labour. Less than two years ago a damning report from National Population Commission stated that more than 50, 000 young girls with unwanted pregnancies die yearly from complications arising from procuring abortions. Yearly! If these teenage girls had used a modern contraceptive method like Sayana Press injection, they could have avoided the unwanted pregnancy and ugly results of unsafe abortion and death.
If maternal mortality in Nigeria is heightened by poor family planning strategies and young girls with unwanted pregnancies die from complications arising from procuring abortions, then I want to remark that it is a no brainer that our government should focus heavily on making contraceptives easily available and accessible to women who desire family planning and provide the necessary infrastructure that is maternal friendly. Many organizations are advocating for improved contraceptive access to Nigerian women. One of such Organisation is DKT Nigeria.
DKT Nigeria is offering a basket of contraceptive choices to Nigeria women and improving the lives of Nigerian families in general. The underlying vision of DKT Nigeria is, ‘Let Every Child Be Wanted.’ Children who are not desired should not even be conceived.
DKT Nigeria’s product offerings include Kiss and Fiesta Premium condoms, LYDIA IUDs, Postpill emergency contraceptive and Levofem daily contraceptive pills, Sayana Press injectable, Implanon NXT and Jadelle implants. Every woman who wants to plan her life by adopting family planning should be encouraged. It is to the Nigerian society’s benefit if our women are healthy, strong and alive. No woman should die while giving life. No woman should be deprived of access to contraceptives or any life-saving medicines. No woman should be denied information that can save her life and the lives of her unborn ones.
No Nigerian woman should die because of unwanted pregnancy!
Onuoha is the Programme Manager for DKT Nigeria