By Busayo Onijala/Vivian Ihechu
The Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS), has called for collaboration with the media for improved maternal and child health to reduce high burden of maternal deaths in Nigeria.
Mr Akin Jimoh, the Programme Director, DEVCOMS, made the call on Wednesday during a courtesy visit to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at Iganmu, Lagos.
Jimoh was accompanied on the visit by Mrs Appolonia Eke, a Family Planning Consultant and Financial Secretary, Public Health Sustainable Advocacy Initiative (PHSAI), Lagos.
Other members of the team were Mr Abraham Adekoya, Vice-Chairman, Interfaith Group of Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) and Devcoms Head of Programmes, Ms Ikeoluwa Otudeko.
Jimoh said, “It is regrettable that a large proportion of women still lose their lives to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications.
“In Lagos State alone, statistics show that 555 women out of 100,000 die annually in Lagos as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth; it is equivalent to six women dying every hour.
“A lot of factors account for these needless deaths; there is need to stem them and it requires increased collaborative efforts and massive sensitisation.
“The media can play a major role in this because they checkmate government policies, ensure that there is accountability, as well as give out the right information to the public.
“Yet, we need to do more because these deaths are under-reported, especially when it has to do with under-developed, rural and semi-rural areas.’’
According to him, maternal mortality is not an issue to be overlooked; its causes are broad ranging from unwanted pregnancy which lead to abortions, haemorrhage, sepsis, poor healthcare services and delays.
“They include inability to take prompt decisions before going to a health facility, unavailability of transportation to access, as well as the proximity of health facilities.
“Delays can also come from factors that affect prompt treatment such as power supply, unavailability of qualified medical personnel, drugs, consumables among others.
“There is need for individuals, health workers, government and the media to know that we are all stakeholders in this issue.
“We can be victims in one way or the other; so, it is necessary to intensify the need for good maternal health because without good health, we cannot function well,’’ Jimoh said.
Mrs Eke of PHSAI, Lagos, said, “Media are integral in achieving the desired aim of reducing maternal mortality.
“If they show the kind of commitment that was shown during the time we had Ebola crisis in Nigeria, through the dissemination of right information, the rate of deaths from complications of pregnancy and childbirth will be reduced.
“There is need for people to understand and embrace family planning (child spacing) and the use of contraceptive methods.
“Child spacing helps to avoid the proven challenges that women face in pregnancy and childbirth, especially when they are too young, old, or when pregnancies are too close or too many.
“Successful child spacing programmes improve quality of life and significantly contribute to demographic dividends and national development.”
Eke said that advocacy and enlightenment campaigns should be continuous, especially in the rural and semi-urban areas to highlight the importance of accessing healthcare services and family planning.
Also commenting, Mr Abraham Adekoya, the Vice-Chairman, Interfaith Group of NURHI, said, “ It is important that people know the right information on family planning (child spacing) and use of contraceptives.
“This is because adequate information will help to correct some of the myths and misconceptions and break barriers surrounding the use of contraceptives in Nigeria.
“There should be more investment in family planning services in terms of funding and advocacy, because failure to take action will result to dire consequences.
“When a woman dies, it is not just a loss to family, but a loss to the nation; this is because the nation loses out on her contributions to the social and economic development,’’ Adekoya said.