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Reducing maternal mortality requires multifaceted approach — Ihekweazu


Reducing maternal mortality requires multifaceted approach — Ihekweazu

The Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch (NHW), Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu,
has said that reducing maternal mortality in the country required a multifaceted approach.

She told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja that such an approach would address the
complex social, economic and political factors that contribute to poor maternal health outcomes.

The Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch (NHW), Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu

Ihekweazu, who said that NHW had continued to advocate for the health of women and children in the country,
urged the incoming government to prioritise maternal health by improving health infrastructure and addressing
social determinants of health.

She also suggested increased community engagement, strengthening of partnerships and prioritising data collection
and use to improve maternal health.

She said “by taking these steps, the new administration can ensure that maternal health is positioned as a matter of
priority in Nigeria and work toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality.

“This will require sustained efforts and collaboration from stakeholders at all levels, but ultimately, investing in
maternal health is not only a moral imperative but also a smart investment for the future.’’

Quoting the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) of 2018, she said
the country accounts for one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with an estimated 512 deaths per 100,000 births.

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She said that some of the challenges that hinder efforts to reduce maternal mortality included inadequate access to healthcare services.

According to her, many women in the country do not have access to quality healthcare services, especially in rural areas.

“This lack of access can result in delays in receiving appropriate care during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.

“This can lead to complications during childbirth, which can be life-threatening if not managed appropriately. About two-third
of women give birth at home without skilled assistance, which increases the risk of complications and maternal mortality.’’

She said that sociocultural factors such as gender inequality, early marriage and traditional practices contribute to maternal
mortality in the country, adding that poor infrastructure, inadequate roads and transportation systems could also make it
challenging to access services, particularly in rural areas.

“To reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria, it is crucial to address these challenges by improving access to quality
healthcare services and family planning,’’ she said.

Described maternal mortality as a major global health issue, with an estimated 287,000 deaths occurring annually,
she said “majority of these deaths occur in developing countries, where access to quality maternal healthcare services is
often limited.

“It is also important to increase the number of skilled birth attendants, address sociocultural factors, improve
emergency obstetric care and invest in infrastructure to improve transportation and access to services.’’

Ihekweazu also said that to ensure accountability at all levels and focus on data collection, the new administration
can develop a comprehensive national health plan that sets out clear targets for maternal and newborn health
ndicators and outlines the strategies for achieving these targets.

“The plan should prioritise data collection, disaggregation and reporting, and should ensure that investments
are integrated into the overall health system.

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