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WARDC champions cause against maternal mortality

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Nigeria, Katsina.<br />October-November 2009.<br />Turai Jaradua maternal and children Hospital.<br />A mother with her baby with spina-bafida malformation at the special baby care unit.<br />She gave birth at home and then came to hospital to look after her new baby born.<br />Every year about 9 million children before the age of 5 die from conditions that can easily be prevented. About 11,000 children are born daily in Nigeria. Nigeria has the highest number of newborn deaths in the whole Africa.

With the rising cases of maternal mortality, negligence in attending to pregnant women has led to some women patronizing traditional birth attendants or seeking help in private hospitals above their income.

The Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) in a town hall meeting with healthcare providers and women in Lagos, recently focused on government’s role in ensuring that maternal healthcare in its facilities are accessible and hitch-free.

According to legal practitioner and Programs Officer WARDC, Bukola Osidibo, the government has made commitments to providing adequate healthcare services to women in Lagos State, especially antenatal and maternal care.

We want to encourage women to access antenatal services in government hospitals because, over time, we realised that some women go to traditional birth attendants or private hospitals they cannot afford.

“We are advocating that women visit government hospitals because they should be cheaper and guaranteed, but then these women come back to complain about access to antenatal services, high user fee, cost of drugs and running scans which is almost equivalent to using a private hospital.

“We also know that litigating maternal issues is difficult because they are still seen as personal issues and so we are gradually educating lawyers and some judges on the importance of these cases, as this will go a long way in eliminating the negligence faced with maternal health.”

She added that the town hall meeting have women drawn from communities in Lagos including Ikorodu, Lagos Island, Mosun Okunola, Mushin, Orile-Agege, Igando and Ijaiye-Ijokoro and most of them have complained about the healthcare facilities in their locality not being accessible during rainy season, no drugs, no generators, no stretchers or wheelchairs, no ambulances and some of them do referrals at the most dangerous time without referral notes.

However, the Director, Nursing Services in Lagos State Ministry of Health, Mrs. Dorcas Shonibare, said that access to healthcare should not be limited to government facilities alone.

She encouraged women to register for antenatal very early to help medical practitioners detect early any issues that may affect the safety of the mother and child before, during and after delivery.

The Executive Secretary of Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service, Dr. Modupe Olaiya, urged people to donate blood regularly, noting that voluntary donation of blood will safe many lives.

She also implored Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to help the Lagos State Ministry of Health sensitise members of the public on the importance of blood donation.


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