Following the statement made by the world second richest man, Bill Gates, on Thursday that Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places to give birth; gynaecologists in the country have recently presented carefully designed guidelines to improve the nation’s infants and maternal health record in the world.
The Chairman of Bill and Melinda Foundation, who was on a visit to the country noted that :“Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth with the fourth worst maternal mortality rate in the world ahead of only Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad. One in three Nigerian children is chronically malnourished”.
While maternal health experts did not dispute his submission, they have highlighted factors responsible for this woeful state of infants and maternal health, and provided measures to improve the condition, going forward.
According to Emeritus Professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Osato Giwa-Osagie, one of the factors responsible for infants and maternal mortality is old wives tales, which have been passed down to younger women, and consequently prevent them from seeking care during pregnancy, until complications set in.
“In as much as we are taking time to address these myths, we want everyone to know that pregnancy is not a disease, and should not be leading to death. If only pregnant women will take their time to attend antenatal care; follow their doctors advices, nearly ninety-five percent of pregnancies will be delivered successfully at child birth without complications. However, it’s the remaining five percent nobody knows where they are”.
Giwa-Osagie, who is also the joint pioneer of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)/Test Tube Baby in Nigeria, however decried the situation where pregnant women present late to the hospital.“Unfortunately, most times, when some of these pregnant women who had initially neglected antenatal care are brought to the hospitals, it’s either the baby is dead or the mother is in a serious condition. This is why I recommend the book “What Mama didn’t tell you about pregnancy-the myth, the truth and the lie”, for every woman, who desires to carry her pregnancy to term successfully”.
For Dr Gregory Ohihoin, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), an average black pregnant woman is predisposed to more complications than her white counterpart, has shown by study a conducted in the US.
“Even in the US, where they have access to the best healthcare facilities, they have access to the best doctors, and they are well educated with good socio-economic status, but the study found that the outcome of a black woman’s pregnancy will be worse than that of an average white woman with the same standard. And I discovered that black pregnant women will have more complications than their white counterparts”, he noted.
Dr Ohihoin, who identified preeclampsia as one of the reasons for infants and maternal mortality, recommended earlier diagnosis of pregnancy and early antenatal registration as keys to overcoming this challenge.
“One of the reasons for this occurrence is hypertensive complications in pregnancy known as preeclampsia, and it runs in more aggressive force in black women. The implication is that black pregnant women should be given more attention than an average pregnant white woman, because she has a higher risk of pregnancy complications. Earlier diagnosis of pregnancy and earlier antenatal registration is the key to overcoming this challenge”, he revealed.
Ohihoin, who recently launched four books, one of which was “What Mama didn’t tell you about pregnancy-the myth, the truth and the lie”, urged every woman of pregnancy age to get a copy of the book, and read, in order to equip themselves with useful information for safe motherhood.
NIMR Director General, Prof. Babatunde Salako also noted the importance of the book, saying it was published in an attempt to reduce the maternal mortality rate and improve pregnancy outcome in Nigeria.
Salako added that the book came as a timely intervention to assuage the state of pregnant women’s health in the country, because essential information and interventions reaching women and babies on time would avert maternal deaths.
Gates had urged the Nigerian government to investment in the people and their health.
He said, “The most important choice you can make is to maximize your greatest resource, the Nigerian people. Nigeria will thrive when every Nigerian is able to thrive.
“If you invest in their health, education and opportunities – the “human capital” we are talking about today – then they will lay the foundation for sustained prosperity. If you don’t, however, then it is very important to recognise that there will be a sharp limit on how much the country can grow.