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Maternal, Child Mortality: How Northern Women Risk Their Lives – Leadership


By Beatrice Gondyi

For 37-year old Bilhatu Gideon (not real name), her sixth pregnancy was just like any of her previous pregnancies, until she had a miscarriage on her way back to Bauchi from Abuja, where she had gone on official assignment. The pregnancy was two months old at the time she lost it. The miscarriage took her unaware.

When the bleeding became unbearable, she was rushed to the hospital for evacuation of the remnant of the fetus. After it was flushed out, her doctor advised her to take a sample of the miscarriage to the laboratory with a view to ascertaining the cause of the abnormality. This she did but never bothered to go back for the result of the test conducted, which led to her inability to conceive though she so much desired to take another go at becoming pregnant once more.

Two years later, she went back for the result she abandoned and she discovered she had an infection, acute endometritis, which could have been easily treated at the time she had the miscarriage.

Many women, out of sheer ignorance or even negligence at times make pregnancy-related complications common in the society with the attendant effects on their social, financial and general wellbeing. Often times, it is noted that the complications are avoidable in the first instance had one or two steps been taken by the women.

LEADERSHIP Weekend’s findings among some women in Bauchi revealed that many factors are responsible for complications in pregnancy leading to maternal and child mortality. Such factors include loss of blood during delivery, multiple pregnancies, reluctance and in some cases outright refusal to deliver at health facilities as well as delay in registering for ante-natal care.

Talatu Umar, 42, disclosed that her last two pregnancies were her most difficult as she struggled between life and death to give birth. According to her, prior to these, she had had eight children and due to age and the expansion of her uterus, she spent over six days in labour.

She said when she was to deliver her ninth baby, she was induced and when she was to be wheeled to the theatre for a cesarean section (CS) she delivered. But with the 10th pregnancy, Talatu stated that she had no choice but to go straight for CS as it appeared as if the baby was trying to claim her life.

“I had never experienced anything like that before. The pain was unbearable.

I don’t normally attend antenatal until the ninth month of my pregnancy, so I thought it would come easy. I really suffered and I will never wish same experience even for my worst enemy. Going for antenatal is crucial; with it your life and that of your baby will be saved. Now I have decided I won’t conceive again and even if I do, I will strictly adhere to the rules and regulations guiding antenatal,” she stated.

However, some women are serious with their antenatal schedules as Maryam Sani confirmed to LEADERSHIP Weekend. She explained that her current pregnancy was her eighth and she had never missed her antenatal days just as she always carried out all tests required of her.

“As you can see this pregnancy is about six months but I started attending ANC (Ante-Natal Clinic) two months back. I am very grateful as I don’t have any complications in all my pregnancies. I can attribute this to the care I receive during antenatal visits and regularly taking my routine drugs as well as bringing all the tests results and the scanning I was asked to do,” she said.

When asked why women don’t carry out examinations required for their health and that of their babies, a director of community health with Bauchi State government, Dr Joseph Odiba, said most of the patients are not aware of the importance of the tests. He added that, religion plays a vital role as most people believe whatever happens to them is the will of God, which explains their nonchalant attitude.

“Most of the time it depends on the patient you are seeing and what she may require. Most of them if you give them test, they don’t come back. Sometimes they come back. At times if there is a delay before they get their result, you won’t see them. Sometimes they don’t know the importance of the test as they will just go home and don’t bother coming back for their result until something happens.

“Most of the time, you know our community is very religious and when you tell them the effect of certain behavior and why certain tests are required to be carried out, they tell you everything belongs to God, if God destines it, it will come to pass. I attend to so many women, sometimes 35, at other times, up to 42 women on a daily basis,” he said.

Odiba, however, called on community and religious leaders to enlighten and encourage women to be healthy as they adhere strictly to the tenets of their religion, saying the leaders ought to emphasize the fact that religion and science are different though everything ultimately belongs to God.

“I am calling on community and religious leaders to continue to tell women to carry out the tests required of them and to tell them the adverse effects of most of their behavior. To tell them that what belongs to God belongs to God and the knowledge that has been released by God to humanity is for our own good, for our own use. They should know that religion is different and science is different but at the end of it all it comes down to God,” he submitted.

A matron with one of the urban maternity clinics in Bauchi, Mrs Grace Sale, advised pregnant women to eat healthy food and when labour starts, they should go and deliver at a health care facility for prompt intervention. She further them to attend antenatal regularly and take their routine drugs daily because if they don’t, it could lead to loss of blood during delivery which also could lead to loss of mother and child.

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to reduce maternal and infant mortality as well as improve healthcare delivery service, the Bauchi State government inaugurated the new Maternal and Pre-natal Death Surveillance Response (MPDSR) and Technical Working Group (TWG) Committee.

The committee is saddled with the responsibility of planning and establishing the mechanism for the MPDSR at the state level as well as make recommendations to the state government on ways to reduce avoidable maternal and pre-natal death in the state.

Inaugurating the 26-member committee drawn from different departments and agencies in the state health sector, the permanent secretary in the state Ministry of Health, Dr. Saidu Aliyu Gital, said it became necessary when recent statistics released by the state chapter of Maternal and Pre-natal and Technical Working Group showed a worrisome trend in maternal mortality.

“There is no reason why a woman should die while giving birth in the state. Our budget captured life-saving drugs for pregnant women and the five-point health agenda of the state governor, including the under-five free treatment,” Gital said at the occasion.

Bauchi is ranked among the first states which introduced the use of Misoprostol and Chlorhexidine as part of efforts aimed at preventing mother and child death. It did this with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programme, Targeted States High Impact Project (TSHIP).

Misoprostol, LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt, is meant for controlling primary postpartum haemorrage, which is described as the number one killer of pregnant women. Nigeria is said to be the first country in the world to have included this drug on its essential drug list even before the World Health Organization (WHO) listed it on its essential drug lists.


culled from Leadership

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