Nigeria is considered as one out of ten countries with the highest maternal mortality rates and a new report released earlier in May 2023 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that Nigeria accounts for the second-highest number of maternal and child deaths globally.
According to the report, which was titled: ‘Improving maternal and newborn health and survival and reducing stillbirth: Progress Report 2023”, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation is only behind India in the latest ranking.
The report noted that “in 2020, 788 women and children died ‘per thousand’ in India and 540 women and children ‘per thousand’ died in Nigeria.”
“In the same year, India accounted for 17 per cent of global maternal, and neonatal deaths and stillbirths, while Nigeria accounted for 12 per cent.”
Also, as at 2020, there were reportedly over 27 million Nigerians living with some form of disabilities such as visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical challenge,down syndrome, among others.
TheNigerian News reports that this has prompted various stakeholders in the health sector who have taken up the challenge to identify the causes of maternal mortality and bring it to the barest minimum and also put measures in place to assist Persons living With Disabilities (PWDs) to easily have access to healthcare services.
Consequently, the Christian Blind Mission (CBM) global disability inclusion, an international organisation, which has been working on specific needs of women around the world as well as inclusiveness of persons living with disabilities, to collaborate with the Sustainable Healthcare Foundation (SFHF) and the Joint National Association of Persons living With Disabilities (JONAPWD) to launch the Comprehensive & Inclusive Women’s Health in Nigeria (CIWHIN) project which would run for four years to address these maternal mortality cases in the FCT and the North West.
Speaking at the launch on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in Abuja, with various representatives from the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, FCT Primary Health Care Board, Hospitals Management Board and traditional rulers, among others, the CBM Country Director in Nigeria, Ekaete Umoh, thanked these stakeholders for their efforts so far, while advocating for more collaborative efforts to curb this maternal mortality rate, while stressing the need for those at the Healthcare facilities to fully assist the PWDs rather than stigmatising them.
In his remarks, the CBM Representative in Australia, UK & New Zealand, thanked all the stakeholders for their efforts in ensuring quality sexual and reproductive health of women and girls and the correction of obstetric fistula cases in the FCT and various parts of the North-West.
On her part, the Executive Director of the SFHF, Peters Ogunmayin, attributed some of the causes of the maternal mortality rates to delay seeking care due to beliefs, myths, taboos, poor financial implications, poor understanding of complications& risk factors in pregnancy, delay in receiving appropriate care, poor facilities and amenities, lack of medical supplies, as well as delay in reaching care, among others.
She explained that CIWHIN will comprise inclusive access to quality, affordable and sustainable sexual and reproductive health services, obstetric fistula prevention, management and rehabilitation for all women and girls, enlightenment/sensitization of women and girls on sexual reproductive health/rights leading to improved health sector behaviour, recruitment of sign language interpreters, training of health care workers/ officials to achieve improved services, advocacy, mobilization etc.
She also revealed that the team will include health officials, PWDs, traditional and religious leaders, women leaders and youth leaders, among others.
This project has been applauded by representatives from the FCT Primary Healthcare, Hospitals Management, local government council officials and other stakeholders who described it as a welcome development, while stressing the need for more sensitization in the communities, as well as develop and equip more healthcare centres to resolve most of these pregnancy related issues.