MWAN seeks maternal mortality reduction
The Lagos chapter of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN) has called for more government policies to address barriers hindering the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards maternal mortality reduction in the country.
The association decried the position of Nigeria in the global health ranking as the second country with the highest maternal mortality rates.
The group of medical women gave the submission at the MWAN’s 41st yearly General Meeting and Scientific Conference with the theme: “Maternal Mortality Reduction: Overcoming Barriers and Accelerating Progress to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals”.
In her welcome address, the President, MWAN, Lagos chapter, Dr. Omowunmi Bakare, stressed that despite some of the progress recorded in maternal health, there is still no significant changes in the country’s health indices.
She stated that recent statistics showed that more than 500, 000 women between the ages of 15 and 49 die of causes related to pregnancy and child birth, adding that almost all maternal deaths, approximately 99 per cent, occur in developing countries with more than half in Africa.
The Consultant Public Health Physician groaned that Nigeria is currently the second highest burden of maternal mortality in the world, ranging from 1, 000 – 1, 250 deaths per 100, 000, despite its huge natural and human resources.
“We are looking at SDG 3, which is to ensure good health and well being for all. Part of the SDG 3 is the reduction of maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100, 000 live births and how do we reduce it? We have to address it not just from the health angle, we have to look at other sectors, exploring dramatic and inspiring strategies to achieve positive results,” she stressed.
Also speaking, the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, in her address stressed that maternal mortality is a serious issue that needs to be addressed urgently as it remains unacceptably high in the country, adding that the conference is a very apt one and places emphasis on the urgent need for attention in maternal health in the country.
Ambode, who is the matron of the MWAN was represented by the former Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr. Ibironke Sodeinde stressing that it is estimated 800 women in every 100, 000 live births die, which accounts for a total of 58, 000 yearly and 19 per cent of the world maternal mortality rate.
She said with a population of about 94.2 million women in Nigeria, “It is hazardous to leave the issue of maternal mortality unaddressed.”
She said in order to develop sustainable solutions to the issue, government across all level must address the root cause, as there is also pressing need to establish new primary health care centres in communities for wider coverage and easy access.
“It is through the public healthcare system that quality healthcare services can be given to the women and children and preventable ailment, which account for high maternal and infant mortality rate in Nigeria an be effectively tackled,” Ambode stressed.
The keynote address delivered on the theme by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Lagos Coordinator, Dr. Memuna Esan, highlighted the barriers to overcome in achieving the SGD 3 in maternal mortality reduction in Nigeria.
Esan said barriers to maternal health services borders on cost, access and availability of services, infrastructure, quality and sustainability, information deficit and attitude, adding that the issue cannot improve without total attention and focus on addressing the barriers.
She said part of the strategies for accelerating progress includes improving health systems and interventions, utilising efficient financing mechanisms, forming political partnerships and community system strengthening.
Others she said include: “Increase government funding for maternal health, provision of basic tools to increase community health workers performance, ensure the priority of maternal health in health insurance scheme, identify high-level champions for maternal health, harness power at the private sector and develop cost-effective tools to collect data on maternal health.”
She, however, noted that smart investments in maternal health strengthens health systems overall and increase cost-effectiveness of resources allocated to the health sector, adding that failure to invest deepens counter-production, undermining national growth and development.
She further stressed that some countries have achieved improved maternal health by using innovative financing mechanism, working with community health programmes and building political partnership, while she urged Nigeria to key into them to achieve progress in maternal mortality reduction.