Nigeria’s High Rate of Maternal Mortality is Still Highly Underreported

Maternal mortality is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days following the delivery or termination of a pregnancy. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria accounts for almost 20 per cent of global maternal deaths.

Globally, maternal mortality remains a major public health concern, especially in poorly resourced and developing countries, including Nigeria. About 295, 000 women around the world reportedly died during pregnancy and childbirth in 2017, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 66 per cent of the total deaths. Recent data show that Nigeria has an average Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of 512 deaths per 100,000 of the population.

A community maternal death review titled, “Why Are Women Dying While Giving Birth in Nigeria?” also reveals that despite having one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, many cases of women dying during childbirth in Nigeria are still unreported.

“Each maternal death should be counted, and action taken to review or set up systems to make sure no woman dies while giving birth, especially in the communities,” said Vivianne Ihekweazu, the Director of the Nigerian Health Watch. “Pregnancy is not a disease. It should not lead to deaths. Every maternal death should be regarded as an abnormality,” she said.

The report recommended that health programming on maternal mortality must be focused at the community level.

“State governments must commit to building existing socio-cultural structures to accelerate accountability for maternal deaths at the community level, through community leadership, and to advocate for the adoption of safe practices in maternal health care.”

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