Friday, May 20 2022

Every year, 59,000 maternal deaths occur in Nigeria. Nigerian women are 500 times more likely than women in advanced countries to have problems during childbirth. Daily Trust on Sunday reports.

A a large number of pregnant women in Nigeria do not have access to adequate health care. This is due either to the lack of resources in their neighborhood or to the fact that women cannot afford health care. Also, many pregnant women in Nigeria avoid seeking medical help because they believe the services will be of poor quality.

United Nations (UN) data shows that 303,000 women die each year during childbirth or due to pregnancy-related problems. This translates to approximately 830 women dying each day, or one every two minutes. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for nearly two-thirds of all pregnancy-related deaths, leaving Nigeria and India responsible for one-third of all deaths globally.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Nigeria accounts for one in seven maternal deaths globally. In Nigeria, more than 50,000 women die each year. About 95% of deaths during childbirth are preventable.

Additionally, the patriarchal society and oppression of women in the country can prevent a pregnant woman from receiving proper care. In some areas, the health decisions of many pregnant women are influenced by cultural factors, lack of education and poverty.

Research by Beatrice Wuraola Ope which sought to address the challenges of maternal care in Nigeria noted that several women in southwestern Nigeria believe it is better to give birth in a non-institutional setting than to give birth in a modern facility because TBAs are more concerned and compassionate than skilled birth attendants.

The research showed a clear distinction between the real and perceived quality of care provided, explaining that even if modern health facilities in this region have enough health experts with internationally recognized good practices, maternal deaths may still increase. because women perceive ‘quality’ to influence the use of health services.

Similarly, Puddah, which is isolation of women, is also prevalent in northern Nigeria, where women are isolated and encouraged to give birth at home. Allowing a stranger to assist with childbirth is considered disrespectful by many in these contexts.

In an interview with women who had attended the public health system during their pregnancies, it was concluded that one thing that made maternal care exhausting in the public sector was the poor state of facilities and also the lack of respect for the human life.

Ms Joyce Egwu, a mother of three, said after what she had been through in the public health system after giving birth to her first child, she often advised other pregnant women to seek treatment at private hospitals if they could afford it.

“Imagine being pregnant, a time everyone knows where a woman is easily irritated or annoyed by everything and the hospital is not clean. Most of the time nurses speak with an attitude as if they are doing you a favor instead of doing their job.

“I remember a time when the pharmacy at the hospital ran out of a particular medicine I needed and when I asked the pharmacist when I could come back for it, she told me if I like I shouldn’t pick it up from another pharmacy So how do you trust people who are constantly rude and show disregard for life to give birth without complications God forbid something happens they don’t seem like the kind of people who would feel remorse,” she added.

After recounting her experience, Ms. Egwu noted that she was shocked by the pharmacist’s attitude towards her. She swore to communicate only with her obstetrician and to get her medicine from outside.

Another lady Margaret Effa who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday said her concern was not with the doctors and nurses as she had a good relationship with the people who cared for her during her pregnancy.

However, she complained about the poor condition of the facilities used at the hospital. She described the hospital where she gave birth as poorly maintained and disorganized. She recalled that they often couldn’t find her records, but because she was a familiar face, they always looked after her.

“Sometimes you can’t blame doctors and nurses for having an attitude when you talk to them. These are people who are underpaid and sometimes don’t even get paid for a while, but they have to take care of people at full capacity.

“The health center is located in a rural area, so most of the time there is no electricity. You would see ladies taking their prenatal classes outdoors or in stuffy, uncomfortable rooms. The pharmacy is also not stocked with most of the drugs prescribed by the doctor,” she added.

Mrs. Margaret Effa, who is also a mother of three, mentioned that it was only her last child she had in the hospital. Her first two children were delivered by traditional birth attendants.

In recounting her experience, she explained this; “the only reason I even went to the hospital was that the lady who attended the delivery of my two children had gotten sick and I didn’t want to use anyone else because it’s better to do these things with people that you trust.”

She also explained that “With the traditional method, the women around you during childbirth know how to comfort and massage the body so that the process is less painful. They are mothers and have already given birth, so they know what to do.

“I also believe that the herbs given to you after the delivery process work faster than the drugs in the hospital because they are made up of natural ingredients that benefit the body in so many other ways.

Dr. Paul Adejo, who is an obstetrician and has worked in both the public and private sectors, noted that it would not be possible for healthcare professionals to perform at their best with the quality of services provided in the public sector.

“I wouldn’t want to go into details, but it was so often the case as a doctor at the health center where I worked, I had invested in my personal finances just to make sure my patients were at the easy.”

Dr. Adejo also explained that the perception of health services is what will encourage other women who do not want to try appropriate institutional methods such as hospitals, fertility clinics, etc.

“It’s not like doctors and nurses don’t know how to do their job, but it takes more than passion to keep doing this job. Maternal losses can be avoided if responsible parties are prepared to prioritize health care and ensure that the standard quality of care is given to women who visit the hospital.

“The only difference between the public sector and the private sector is in the state-of-the-art facilities used to treat patients and also in the fact that you have to see the value of the money you pay. Thus, if the public sector can try to adopt the quality of services offered in private hospitals, pregnant women will have the opportunity to experience a safe pregnancy period.

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