Maternal health simply means the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and of course, postnatal care. Improving the health of mothers is very important as their well-being determines the health of the next generation. Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest maternal mortality rate. There are so many reasons why some mothers choose not to engage in proper antenatal and postnatal care, some of which will be discussed. We will also look at the maternal mortality rate in Nigeria, before finally going over the common maternal health problems in Nigeria.
Causes of poor maternal health in Nigeria
Let’s briefly explore some factors affecting poor maternal health in Nigeria.
1. Preexisting medical conditions
Some common preexisting health issues can affect the maternal health during pregnancy. HIV and AIDS Is a common example. It is known that maternal HIV and AIDS infection can affect the child. However, HIV infections during pregnancy can also pose a health risk to the mother. They have a risk of contracting tuberculosis (TB) and/or malaria during pregnancy.
2. Poor hygiene
This is also one major health problem facing mothers if good hygiene is not being practiced. If any signs of infection are detected after birth, it would be safe to treat them immediately. Maternal oral hygiene has been shown to affect the health of both the expectant mother and her unborn fetus. Good oral hygiene is especially essential during perinatal period and the development of the child in future. Poor oral and physical hygiene during and after pregnancy can have serious consequences on the mother and child.
3. Unsafe Abortion
Unsafe abortions does not just account for one of the reasons for poor maternal health in the country, but is also one of the major public health problems facing Nigerian women. Unsafe abortion practices has led to various complications during pregnancy.
In other to keep women and adolescents safe, they should be educated and given access to contraceptives, safe abortion services, and proper post-abortion care to the full extent of the law. This would help control death due to unwanted pregnancies.
4. Poor health facilities
In areas that are not too developed, a lack adequate health personnel could be putting the lives of mothers at risk as they may not be able to handle some pregnancy complications or give proper advice on how to about some certain situations.
5. Cultural practices and beliefs
The lives of mothers are in jeopardy when they decide to follow certain cultural beliefs rather than follow medical procedures. It may be true that those cultural practices worked for our forefathers, but it may not be the same in our case today. Effective medical practices have been provided to curb the maternal mortality rate.
ALSO READ: 7 Best Exercises For Pregnant Women
6. Poor medical emergency services
In a meeting with the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria and Guild of Medical Directors, the Minister of Health in Nigeria , Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed that poor medical emergency services was one of the causes of the maternal mortality rate in Nigeria. The meeting was set up to discuss the implementation of the Federal Government’s proposed Emergency Medical System and Ambulance Services. He said: “The cases of maternal mortality can be attributed to not being able to reach the hospital. If you add those ones who reached the hospital and are not attended to because of deposit, they are going to be between 30 to 40 per cent.”
7. Lack of finance
As a developing country, a lot of Nigerian women love below a dollar and lack the necessary financial capabilities to gain adequate maternal care. A 2019 study on the Challenges of Maternal and Prenatal Care in Nigeria pointed out this fact and also stated that the cost of transportation also played a role in the inadequate maternal health in Nigeria.
The study also stated that medical staff attitudes, poor education and corruption in the medical sector affected the quality of maternal care services in Nigeria.
There are still other factors that may affect the health of mothers like distance from medical facilities, poverty, etc., but there are also ways to improve these situations. In order to maternal survival, the provision of adequate medical facilities and personnel is essential as well as preventing early child bearing and unsafe abortions.
Maternal Mortality Rate in Nigeria
The maternal mortality rate in Nigeria is one of the highest in the world. Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Enahire said that Nigeria has about 512 maternal mortality per 100,000 birth in 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that figure to be around 800
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria accounts for nearly 20 per cent of all global maternal deaths happen, reporting that between 2005 and 2015, over 600,000 maternal deaths occurred in Nigeria and about 900,000 maternal near-miss cases occurred in the country during that period.
They also added that a Nigerian woman has a 1 in 22 risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum/post-abortion during her lifetime; whereas in the most developed countries, the lifetime risk is 1 in 4900.
Maternal Health Problems in Nigeria
The maternal health problems in Nigeria are divided into those before, during and after pregnancy.
- Preexisting conditions like HIV and AIDS
- Poor nutritional intake
- Mental health conditions
- Gestational diabetes
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Other infections like toxoplasmosis, bacterial vaginosis, hepatitis B virus etc.
- Labor complications e.g breech position, placenta previa, haemorrhaging.
- Low birth weight
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Blood clots
- Postpartum infections, such as uterine, bladder, or kidney infections
- Mental health conditions e.g Depression and anxiety
- Hair loss
So far we have seen the causes of poor maternal health in Nigeria, which includes poverty, poor hygiene, unsafe abortions and poor emergency services etc. We have also found out the common maternal health problems in Nigeria, before, during and after pregnancy. The importance of maternal health can never be overemphasized because mothers build the nation, and there health should be a priority. I hope this information I painstakingly researched and compiled will spur you to make efforts to improve maternal care in Nigeria.