By Nicholas Onwukwe
ABUJA – Nigeria’s poor ranking in maternal and child health is already raising concerns among some stakeholders as the Federal Government has been urged to explore the provisions of the new National Health Act to address issues on maternal deaths in the country.
Available data shows that some African countries like Malawi and South Africa are well ahead of Nigeria in their maternal health ratings as the nation still records high maternal mortality with current standing of 576 deaths per 100,000 births.
Emmanuel Dipo Otolorin, the country director of Jhpiego, an international non-profit health organisation who spoke during a policy dialogue session on maternal health in Abuja, observed that the major barriers to assessing quality maternal and health care services in the country include poor infrastructure, poor financing, scarcity of skilled birth attendants which currently stands at 38 percent in the country among others.
While charging health authorities in the country to ensure they follow up urgently on the recently signed National Health Act, he added that: “The National Health Act would provide funding that would address some of these challenges currently facing the health sector.
“For instance, there is funding to be used for the renovation of health facilities, procurement of basic equipment that are not expensive such as the delivery kits and kits for repairing lacerations and so forth”.
Federal Government has been making some efforts in addressing issues pertaining to maternal and child health but Hadiizar Galadanci, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said empowering the girl-child through qualitative education remains a key factor in solving the issues of maternal and child health.
Despite all these efforts, hospital delivery in Nigeria still remains 39 percent in Nigeria as there are low demands for services.
For maternal health to be addressed holistically, stakeholders at the policy dialogue session were of the view that improvement of skill birth attendants addressing infra structural decay in the nation’s hospital, respectful maternal services, engaging traditional and community leaders would go a long way in addressing Nigeria’s poor ranking in maternal health.