We cannot address maternal health without family planning-Health Minister

Senior Research Scientist, African Population and Health Research Centre, Chima O. Izugbara, Presenting a report on Maternal Health in Nigeria to the Hon. Minister Prof. Isaac Adewole in Abuja

ABUJA (Health Ministry’ Report) – The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has said that the issue of maternal health could not be addressed without tackling the issue of family planning.

The Minister stated this in Abuja recently when he received a report on Maternal Health in Nigeria, a situation report which was presented by Chima O. Izugbara, Senior Research Scientist on Population Dynamics and Reproductive Health, African Population and Health Research Centre.

He said that promotion of family planning and child spacing are key ingredients to reducing morbidity and maternal mortality in Nigeria. He said, “We need to look at education, address poverty and increase access to healthcare’’.

Earlier, the Senior Research Scientist of African Population and Health Research Centre, Chima O. Izugbara, while giving the background of the report said that maternal health remains an area for urgent policy and programmatic attention in Nigeria, adding that nearly one in every four women in Sub-Saharan Africa is a Nigerian.

He stressed that the plight of women in Nigeria would vastly impinge on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region, saying that investing purposely in safeguarding maternal health in the country was a sure strategy for improving on the current levels of progress and guaranteeing the future potential for growth and advancement in Africa as a whole.

He attributed top medical causes of maternal mortality in Nigeria to obstetric hemorrhage, infection following childbirth, unsafe abortion, eclampsia and obstructed labour; the causes which experts agreed were largely treatable and preventable.

According to the report, an estimated 9.22 million pregnancies occur annually in Nigeria, adding that a quarter of these pregnancies were unintended and 56% of the unintended pregnancies were aborted.

Izugbara stressed that the majority of the abortions performed in the country were clandestine and unsafe that is, terminated either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standard or both. As a result, unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity in Nigeria.

According to the report, in 1996, an estimated 600,000 abortions occurred in the country and the number of abortions rose to 760,000 in 2006, and to 1.25 million in 2012.

“About 53% of the population of Nigeria lives in rural settings are particularly at risk for poor maternal health outcomes, including maternal mortality and morbidity adding that maternal health challenges of rural women are heightened by the urban bias in the location of health facilities and the availability of skilled human resources for health,’’ the report further stated.

He said that adequate funding is critical for addressing the current shortage of high-quality human resources for maternal health at all skill levels and increased government investment in multi-sectoral funding will help to address infrastructural deficiencies that characterise the Nigerian health system.