Maternal mortality described as death among women as a result of pregnancy-related cases, is one of the greatest health challenges facing Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. Nigeria has unenviable distinction of having the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world today. Statistics paint an alarming figure of 111 Nigerian women dying daily as a result of pregnancy- related complications, equivalent to two aircraft crashing every day. This no doubt gives cause for  concern and great concern for that matter .It is therefore no surprising that the country’s health managers  have been urged , time and again, to pay special attention towards investing more in maternal health more so as studies have also proved that it is quite profitable to give due attention to the health of our mothers. Speaking recently at the unveiling of Stephanie Linus as the West and Central Africa Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal Health in Abuja, United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, Deputy Resident Representative Dr Eugene Kongnyuy, said that the death of a mother as a result of childbirth leaves the whole family vulnerable, causing productivity loss of as much as $1.5 billion annually in Nigeria alone. He said the world as a whole loses $15 billion as a result of death occasioned by maternal health challenges. The UNEFPA representative for West and Central Africa expressed regret that maternal mortality was  the most neglected tragedy , disproportionately affecting populations, and accounting for 33 per cent of the global maternal burden. Nigeria, which has two percent of the world’s population according to Dr  Kongnyuy, contributes 12 percent of the maternal burden. According to him, this figure shows the magnitude of inequalities that exist among nations of the world on this serious health challenge.
It is not all sad tales about maternal  mortality. The UN representative said the high mortality rate could be minimised, or even avoided, if women had access to basic qualitative reproductive health care. This he explained include access to family planning as well as trained health professional with midwifery skills at every childbirth as well as timely access to high quality emergency obstetric and new born care. The United Nations representative added that violence against women and girls, harmful practices like female genital mutilation, gender inequality and economic disenfranchisement which are prominent in Nigeria need to be addressed to ensure quality health for the county’s women. In that manner, he said that ensuring universal access to voluntary family planning involves putting the poorest, marginalised  and excluded women and girls at the forefront of efforts  especially those in conflict and fragile settings. It is noteworthy that the United Nations remains committed to addressing  one of the most tasking  health challenges of our time-maternal mortality. Although previous governments and the present one have been addressing it, more still need to be done to ensure better health care services and delivery for our mothers. It is quite encouraging that these concerns are encapsulated in UNPFA’s mandate , that of delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, where every child brth is safe and where every person’s potential is fulfilled. The onus is more on the Nigerian governments at all level to rise to the challenge of working towards a better health care system for our women, to improve the rankings of this country on global rating. Nigeria’s number two position as the country with the second highest  rate of maternal mortality is not only a shame to our collective effort at ensuring better health care for our mothers, but a minus to our aspiration to be a leading light of the continent and the Black Race.

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