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Child Spacing: A Strategy of Reducing Nigeria’s Maternal Deaths

Jan 22, 2015
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KADUNA, Nigeria (22/01/2015) – A recent survey by UN and World Bank reveals that Nigeria loses about 166 women daily because of pregnancy and childbirth complications. This is an increase from the 144 recorded in 2010.

This brings to fore the position of experts that if women in the country would embrace modern child spacing methods, more than 35% of the cases would reduced.

Modern child spacing methods adopted by many countries to reduce these deaths are however not too common in many communities in Nigeria – it goes against many people’s beliefs – they think it is contrary to the teachings of their religions and traditional views.

This view has however not been supported by some religious leaders including a Kaduna based Islamic cleric, Imam Musa Tanimu.

Mrs. Mercy Ayuba, a mother of two is among Nigerian mothers who believe that child spacing method is a strategy of reducing the country’s maternal deaths burden.

Mrs Ayuba recently visited a heath facility to access the services – arriving at that decision was not easy, she had to discuss with her husband – in many northern Nigerian communities, women needed permission from their husbands to visit health centres, especially when it has to do with exposing her body to a male health service provider.

In her words: “I decided to come for the child spacing because my husband is scared of making love with me. This is actually my first time of coming to access the facility. I got to know about it through my friends who have done it and they described the method as good. I decided to come for it because my first son is only 1 year plus when I took in and gave birth to the one in my hand. The child in my back is 5month old and so my husband is afraid of coming close to me because once he comes I will take in.

“So, I’m here to be enlightened on the child spacing and which method or how to go about it,” she stated.

A Gates Foundation funded project, Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) has since 2009 been promoting child spacing in various places including villages, market place and motor parks to create awareness on the need for Nigerian women to adopt the practice – their aim is to reduce the country’s high maternal deaths.

NURHI did not leave any stone unturned as it has also trained and equipped child spacing service providers at the various primary health care centres to enable the women access the services in six Nigerian cities of Abuja, Benin, Ibadan, Ilorin, Kaduna and Zaria.

A trained health provider at the Kabala Primary Health Care Centre in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria, Mrs Esther Monday Kazah said the NURHI training had placed her in a better position to offer quality child spacing services to women, noting an increase of 80% to 90% compared to 2008 figure.

According Esther, “Before I only knew two methods of child spacing – the pills and the injection method, but with the NURHI training we were taught the various different methods, now I know so many other methods like the implant, insertion, natural method, barrier methods among others. In this area, the women mostly go for the insertion and injection methods.

“The way and manner the women are accepting child spacing these days is very high. They are now coming for the service more than before. The turn-up now is as a result of the training we received; we take time to educate and enlighten them.

“Many of the women come to access the service because they hear their neighbours or friends talk about it. Before many of them have little knowledge about it, but they are opening up to because of the awareness being created by NURHI,” Mrs. Kazah said.

An official of NURHI, Malam Kabir Mohammed Abdullahi said the organisation would not relent in its advocacy effort to minimize maternal deaths in the country.

He called for creation of budget line for child spacing commodities at the states and local governments’ level.