It is no longer news that women are essential companions that men cannot do without and so a society that is bereft of women cannot survive. All these attributes might have triggered the popular saying that women “are the salt of the world”.
It is against this background that women are accorded a special recognition across the globe. The United Nation advocated the need for 35 percent affirmative action in the representation of women in decision making across strata of the society. The essence of this is only for the sake of gender sensitive but also accord them due recognition like their male counterparts.
Social syndromes such as VVF, HIV and AIDs, a common phenomenon, constitute stigmatization and maternal morbidity.
The moment a woman takes in, the nine months period of pregnancy is like consigning her to death row. The agony that characterises the period of pregnancy is unimaginable and in most cases, these women become incapacitated.
Therefore, the period of pregnancy to the period of delivery is accompanied with numerous health challenges while government and stakeholders in the health sector have continued to intensify efforts to address pregnancy related problems from all angles.
Beside the issue of pregnancy the women folk are susceptible to other problems, like becoming victims of diseases like Sexual Transmitted Infections, STIs, summarily classified under maternal morbidity.
World Health Organization, WHO, statistics shows that about 2.5million women die annually across the globe from pregnancy and post-natal- related complications.
It was also gathered that 90 per cent of these deaths occur in developing countries including Nigeria.
Nigeria accounts for 14 per cent of the global maternal deaths while representing two per cent of the world’s population. Unfortunately, most of the deaths are preventable.
The problem seems to be enduring as a result of unwillingness from stakeholders and lack of strong political will to address these social health challenges in our society.
Worried by the teething menace and its attendant casualties, a Non Governmental Organization, NGO, took the bull by the horn in waging war against the scourge in Kwara State.
The advocacy, it launched in the state to curb all forms of STIs under Gateway Behaviour’s project, was employed through treatment and increased awareness on antenatal care for women.
Speaking at the dissemination meeting of the NURHI Gateway Project in Ilorin, the Director, Primary Healthcare and Disease Control, M. Olumide pointed out that women needed to be armed with requisite information to reduce delays that could lead to increased maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality.
He explained that maternal mortality still stood at an unacceptable rate and therefore needs new approach to ensure that the menace was drastically pruned down.
The Director at the event said that the scourge was preventable if antenatal care services were made accessible to women.
He identified Gateway project as one of the timely interventions put in place by NURHI to address the challenge headlong.
Commending the NGO for bringing the initiative to women in Ilorin South and the state in general, the Director noted that the project since its birth had impacted positively on the maternal and child health care services in the state.
He said, “Every two minutes a woman dies from pregnancy or child related complications. This results in deaths of 2,443,000 women annually. Ninety per cent of these deaths occur in developing countries including Nigeria.
“Nigeria accounts for 14 per cent of the world’s maternal deaths while representing only two per cent of the world’s population, most of these deaths are preventable. Women need to be well equipped with necessary information to reduce delays that could lead to increased maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. According to the NDHS 2013, maternal mortality in Nigeria still stands at 576/100,000 live births.
“This is unacceptably high therefore; something has to be done differently to ensure that this high maternal death rate is drastically brought down. We are counting down to the MDGs which is improving maternal health as one of its goals but the country is still far from achieving this goal. Most of these morbidity and mortality are preventable only if our women have access to and utilize antenatal care services”.
He highlighted recognition of danger signs, plan for skilled birth attendant, plan for place of delivery, saving money for transport and other cost, identification of a potential blood donor and assistance during labour as one of the key strategies of focused antenatal care.
“It is important that every pregnant woman should know and be able to recognise possible danger signs in her and the unborn child during pregnancy and when to seek prompt help from a qualified healthcare provider. It is time we make every pregnancy count”, the Director said.
The Team Leader of Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communication Programs Lisa Cobb, who offered insight into the study said, “The Gateway Behaviour’s Study is an innovation that seeks to promote two key behaviours with a view to understanding how the uptake of a behaviour at a particular point in time using strategic cues to impact on positive health behaviours.
Cobb said, “The two key gateway behaviours are: completion of all recommended antenatal, at least four visits spread across the three trimesters and interpersonal communication on family health matters among intimate network (spouse, mother-in-law, peers and friends).
“The interventions of the study which were implemented in Ilorin South LGA with Ilorin West as the control site has led to a significant increase in the number of women attending antenatal care in their first trimester and increase in spousal support as evidenced by the increased number of men who accompany their wives for antenatal care”.


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