Maternal Health in Nigeria

Maternal Health: Indicators & Statistics

Maternal mortality ratio†, 2005-2009*, reported 550
Maternal mortality ratio†, 2008, adjusted 840
Maternal mortality ratio†, 2008, Lifetime risk of maternal death: 1 in: 23
Life expectancy: females as a % of males, 2009 102
Contraceptive prevalence (%), 2005-2009* 15
Antenatal care coverage (%), At least once, 2005-2009* 58
Antenatal care coverage (%), At least four times, 2005-2009* 45
Delivery care coverage (%), Skilled attendant at birth, 2005-2009* 39
Delivery care coverage (%), Institutional delivery, 2005-2009* 35

Source: UNICEF

Challenges in Africa

Having babies in developing nations may be life threatening. Literally every minute, a woman dies from avoidable complications caused by pregnancy – this adds up to approximately half a million fatalities per year. In Nigeria alone, maternal mortality rate reaches up to 3,200 women (number of mothers per 100,000 births dieing within 42 days after the childbirth); in Northern Nigeria , particularly in the project target area, this rate is even higher. The maternal mortality rate is even higher in areas where many women have many babies in short time spans under malnutrition, bad hygienically conditions and lacking access to medical treatment.

Therefore, the United Nations (UN) have defined “Maternal Health Care” as one of their top eight priorities for this millennium. As reliable members of the society, women and mothers play a vital role for the sustainable development of family life in African nations, although women often still lack of fundamental human rights such as the right of health and freedom from bodily harm. In many developing nations, women can neither benefit from the slowly improving economical situation, nor from available medical care. Therefore, it is a key objectives of many Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to help improve the living conditions among the poorest members of the society.

Other than poverty, bad hygienical conditions and limited access to medical treatment, lacking enlightenment often is the primary cause for high mortality rates among babies (8-20 % in their first year of life) and mothers. 8-12 ‰ of child-bearing women between 13 and 49 of age die before, in or shortly after childbirth.

According to the opinion of experts, maternal health conditions can only be improved by a three-stage program:

  • Child spacing by self-determination of periods between the childbirths
  • Professional care during pregnancy and childbirth
  • Timely access to hospitals where complications can be treated, f.i. by Caesarean cut

A MEANINGFUL IMPROVEMENT can only be accomplished by a comprehensive approach which includes the following elements: wide enlightenment and clean drinking water as fundamentals of life and health, and the involvement of all critical stakeholders.

While female genital mutilation (FGM), early marriages and the tradition of home births reflect social phenomena, which can only be overcome by enlightenment campaigns, “obstetric fistulas” represent a widely spread medical concern, which severely affects many young women and forces them into isolation. These fistulas are injuries of the colon and the uro-genital system which occur in labour and lead to incontinence of the female patients. The medical and social impact of such injuries is fatal: affected young females are expelled from their families, clans and villages and they suffer an incredibly sad fate beyond the sidelines of society.

The project “Maternal Health Care Improvement in Northern Nigeria” initiated by the Rotarian Action Group for Population and Development (RFPD) aims at sustainably improving the situation of women and mothers in selected regions of Northern Nigeria . The project is based on several columns, such as

  • Cooperation with opinion leaders, government authorities, UN, NGOs and foundations
  • Establishment of surgical units by the government for the treatment of obstetric fistulas and for Caesarean cuts
  • Equipment for such surgical units
  • Qualification of doctors and nurses to treat obstetric fistulas
  • Rehabilitation and integration of cured women and support by micro credits
  • Encouragement of cured women to act as multipliers for enlightenment campaigns
  • Enabling the supply of clean water

Other Projects, previously in Nigeria with notable success :

  • 1995 -2000 “Child Spacing and Family Health” co-funded by the German government
  • 2000-2004 “Child Spacing, Family Health and AIDS Education” co-funded by the European Union