LAGOS – Dr Luther-King Fasehun, the Technical and Policy Officer, Wellbeing Foundation Africa, on Monday called for more skilled midwives in Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) to reduce maternal deaths in the country.
Fasehun, who is also a Gynaecologist, said made the call when he spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
He said that inadequate number of skilled midwives in most PHCs, especially at the grassroots contributed to the high rate of maternal mortality.
Fasehun described maternal deaths as deaths which occur during labour, delivery or the first 24 hours after delivery.
He said that skilled care during pregnancy, childbirth and the immediate postpartum period by healthcare professionals such as midwives with appropriate skills was one of the key interventions to reduce maternal mortality.
“Nigeria as a country represents at least 10 per cent of the global maternal mortality burden, with a currently estimated maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 487 per 100,000 live births as at 2011.
“These deaths are unacceptable because studies have also shown that maternal mortality can be prevented even in the most difficult of places or situation with skilled health personnel.
“PHCs are the first point of care for most pregnant women but most of these PHCs experience shortage of midwives.
“Midwives can play a crucial role in preventing the deaths of millions of women and children around who die during and around the time of pregnancy,” he said.
Fasehun said that midwives were cheaper to train and could handle interventions needed during uncomplicated deliveries, while obstetricians were needed when surgical interventions such as Cesarean Sections were necessary.
“Midwives can administer antibiotics for infections and medications to stimulate or strengthen labour.
“They can also remove the placenta from a patient having a hemorrhage as well as handle many other complications that may occur in the mother or her baby.
“When both midwives and obstetricians who provide family planning are available more lives can be saved,” he said.
Fasehun urged the three tiers of government and stakeholders in the health sector to also ensure the deployment of midwives with adequate remuneration to the rural areas where most of the maternal deaths occur.
“ We must recognise the unique skills, roles and responsibilities midwives bring to delivery care and to the central role that midwives play in making motherhood safer,” she said. (NAN)