The hand that rocks the cradle... pinches the child. Though it shouldn’t.
That single line sums up the life and times of pregnant women in Nigeria, most of whom wind up dying deaths that are totally, easily avoidable and can practically be averted. Unfortunately, though, there is neither any focus nor any importance attached to the issue, and weeding it out. Starting right from the fact that women construe gender equality as their foremost issue, to the issues of economic consideration, from the rampant child mortality to the issue of terrorism plaguing Nigerian society, the equally alarming maternal morality rate is being ignored.
Statistics reveal that as many as 10% of the total 6 million deaths of women in 2008, were deaths owing to maternal mortality at the end of a pregnancy. Most of the causes, it seems, for such untimely deaths, are bleeding, infections and hypertension, coupled with the frugal medical care systems that most women are forced to turn to. Above all the inherently physical issues that cause, or lead to maternal mortality, the supreme concern is the frugal condition of primary health care in Nigeria. A stock study of the situation in the country reveals the presence of a handful- a frugally countable number of health care centres and hospitals that have staff equipped with acceptable degrees of competence, coupled with the right drugs and equipment necessary to handle health issues. Ineptitude on part of the staff, lack of education, sometimes the presence of unsafe modes of delivery, and a complete lack of concern – a cornucopia of all the worst elements is the biggest factors that cause this. Leaders themselves escape the downside of the country’s failed health system by flying abroad. The biggest impunity is on their part, for their ineptitude in revamping the Nigerian health care system that is pleading for attention and quick overhauling.
As Nigeria stands today- it is a state that still begs for electricity supplies, health care and obliteration from blind adherence to custom. The hospitals in the country seem to flounder as operations have to be conducted in candle light, against kerosene lamps, as though they were occurrences of a clandestine kind. Human life- that which is sublime in all these activities- is given the least regard. Bleeding, infection and death linger like unwanted guests, unwilling to leave.
The situation in Nigeria, the neglect and the callousness towards the public health system is further worsened by the unholy branding of a woman as a perpetrator of witchcraft, if she passes on after childbirth. One cannot even begin to contemplate the complications the child might find himself facing in the years to come. Right from the fact that hospitals are not equipped, to the fact that the stigma is conveniently left for the memory of a dead woman to bear, there is clearly only one thing that Nigeria is desperately in need of: A pragmatic attitude adjustment. Nigeria must necessarily begin to implement low cost of medical services to pregnant women and serious medical needs on a priority basis. Poverty should not be a yardstick to allow young women to access medical and health care needs, and leaders must be proactive in dispelling myths and illiterate notions that shroud pregnancy.