Maternal health faces issues in the developing world, particularly in Nigeria. A woman’s chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is 1 in 13 (UNICEF). To put this in perspective the maternal death risk in the United States is only about 1 in 2,400 (Osotimehin). This statistic is truly concerning. Nigeria is lacking the technology and resources to provide the adequate care for women having babies. For example, a skilled attendant attends to only 12 percent of women in Nigeria during delivery (Galadanci). This is terrifying considering that the use of a skilled attendant is a key step in reducing the half million maternal deaths in developing countries each year (Galadanci).
Culturally this issue of maternal death reflects the low status of women in a society (Osotimehin). Women in Nigeria are at a disadvantage. It is very common for young women in Nigeria to be married off to an older man when they are very young, sometimes just 9 or 10 years old (Babalola). The cultural norms that exist in Nigeria prevent young girls from seeking help and knowledge regarding pregnancy and childbirth. Newly pregnant women are told to keep it secret and that makes it difficult for women to seek help for delivery, this is why many Nigerian women have home births. It is actually not uncommon for a woman in Nigeria to deliver the baby all by herself, it shows that the woman is strong in Nigerian culture. Without the use of contraceptives women tend to get pregnant at a rapid rate and without the use of abortion women have no option to terminate the baby.
Women in Nigeria face many problems when it comes to their maternal health. Of the surviving mothers, many face compromised health after the delivery. Studies show that 100,000 to 1 million women in Nigeria may be suffering from obstetric fistula, a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum (UNICEF). This disease is serious and would not be such a common problem amoung Nigerian women if they had the adequate resources and technology in place. Abnormal bleeding, prolonged labor, and postpartum fever are also some of the most common complications facing mothers in Nigeria today.
To reduce the amount of maternal deaths that Nigeria faces each year it is essential that the country focus on the use of antenatal care. Unfortunately more than 70 percent of Nigerians live on less than $1 per day, impairing their ability to afford health care (UNICEF). As a result, only about three fifths of woman receive any form of antenatal care in Nigeria (Babalola). This care is not only about the fetus inside the mother, but it correlates positively with maternal mortality reduction. This is due to the testing that is done through antenatal care and the vast amount of education it provides to the mother regarding her body.
This problem that Nigeria is facing regarding maternal health and mortality is not just their problem, it is OUR problem. As the United States of America it is our duty to bring attention to this horrific problem that maternal health is facing in Nigeria. It is our duty to bring attention to the inadequate health care facilities, lack of transportation to institutional care, inability to pay for service and resistance to modern health care (UNICEF).
Babalola, Stella. “BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.” Determinants of Use of Maternal Health Services in Nigeria. January 21, 2009. Accessed July 29, 2016. http://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2393-9-43.
Galadanci, H. “Maternal Health in Northern Nigeria—a Far Cry from Ideal.” An International Journal of Obstetrics. February 19, 2007. Accessed July 29, 2016. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01229.x/full.
UNICEF,”Maternal and Child Health.” Unicef. Accessed July 29, 2016. http://www.unicef.org/nigeria/children_1926.html.
Osotimehin, Babatunde. “Too Many Mothers Still Dying.” CNN. July 11, 2012. Accessed July 29, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/11/opinion/osotimehin-maternal-deaths/.