BY Ogechi Ekeanyanwu
Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate is at an all time high with 814 women deaths per 100,000 live births, according to a new report by the World Health Organisation(WHO).
The statistics is alarming, making Nigeria the 4th worst place to give birth in the world, and accounting for over 10 per cent of all maternal deaths in the world.
The report, world health statistics 2015: Monitoring health for the SDGs, showed that the new maternal mortality rate is even lower that war-torn Somalia, with only three countries: Central African Republic having 882 deaths per 100,000 live births, Chad having 856 deaths and Sierra Leone having 1360 deaths per 100, 000 live births – the highest mortality rate.
It is also a 52 per cent increase from the 2013 statistics where Nigeria had 560 deaths per 100,000 live births and presents a 26 year high as in 1990, there were 704 per 100,000 live births in 1990.
“This year’s World Health Statistics shows that many countries are still far from universal health coverage as measured by an index of access to 16 essential services, especially in the African and eastern Mediterranean regions,” the report read.
“Furthermore, a significant number of people who use services face catastrophic health expenses, defined as out-of-pocket health costs that exceed 25% of total household spending.”
The report, according to WHO, shows the inequalities in access to health services between country’s poorest residents and the richest ones.
In a 2015 research done by Africa, Health, Human & Social Development Information Service (Afri-Dev.Info), the organisation highlighted socio-economic factors like gender disparity, lack of education for women, poor attitudes towards women’s health, early and forced marriages as great contributors to Nigeria’s high mortality rate.
“The underlying causes of maternal mortality include underage/child/forced “marriage and underage/adolescent pregnancies- girls under 18 are more at risk than older women,” Afri-Dev info said in the report.
“The risk of maternal mortality is highest for adolescent girls under 15 years old. Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are leading cause of death among adolescent girls in developing countries.”