Over 50% adolescent girls in Nigeria becomes mothers at 20 years of age according to a health expert.
Mr. Lawrence Anyanwu, who is an official of the Federal Ministry of Health, revealed that research has shown that most girls in Nigeria are already mothers by the time they are celebrating their 20th birthday.
Mr. Lawrence, however lamented that the situation is not only worrisome but unacceptable.
He made the revelation at a two – day Northern Nigeria Regional Consultative Meeting on Child Spacing Services and Information held in Kaduna with the convergence of Child Spacing advocates.
Participants were drawn from States and local government areas in the northwest and northeast regions of the country where maternal mortality is reportedly rated high compare to other regions of Nigeria.
The participants including University Dons, traditional and religious leaders, top government officials, CSOs, and donor partners were disturbed by the high rate of maternal mortality hence their resolve to passionately do the needful.
Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Paul Dogo who spoke of government concern for mothers and children observed that improving contraceptives prevalence rate in Nigeria would save many lives.
To this end, he said, the state government for the first time, created a budget line on family planning with a view to reducing maternal mortality.
Dr, Dogo reaffirmed the resolve and determination of the government towards ensuring that the goals of the program were achieved.
“If we can all embrace child spacing services, maternal mortality would reduce. We see this as a laudable programme and government would struggle to reduce maternal mortality. Go back and monitor the services so that we can move the health status of northern States forward”, he told the participants.
Speaking on the Status of Maternal Health in northern Nigeria, Saving Lives and Averting Maternal Deaths, Prof Hadiza Galadanchi of the Bayero Universty, Kano said about 88% of women in the region give birth at home.
She said unless something urgent was done to curtail that, women would continue to die due to complications during childbirth in the region.
She identified Nigeria and India as the two countries that account for third of all global maternal Deaths.
According to her, based on 2013 NDHS reports, 576 per 100,000 die due to complications during child birth.
“We need to understand that Pregnancy is not a disease. Pregnancy should be a thing of joy because it is a process of bringing a child to this world.
“As we speak women still die during childbirth which shouldn’t be. So, we must do everything possible to reduce these deaths among our women,” She said.
She listed Malaria, unsafe abortion, infection, anamia, obstructed labour among some of the reasons why pregnant women die.
On importance of child Spacing, she added. “in many nations, the increased use of child spacing methods parallels an increase in quality of life.
“Birth spacing also has the greatest impact on child survival. It helps protect women from unwanted pregnancies and high-risk pregnancies.
“as a results many women’s life will be saved from unsafe abortions and high-risk pregnancies,” she said.
In a remark, Professor John Gambo Laar of Kaduna State University in his paper presentation titled” Child Spacing, Healthy Prosperous Family and Demographic Dividends, called for investment on girl child education which would assist greatly in reducing maternal deaths in the region.
Prof Laar noted that while population is increasing, government expenditure is decreasing and called for Score Card to indicate progress achieved in comparison to investment.
Speaking in the same vein, a traditional ruler, Sarki Yakin Gagi, who had undertaken a study tour of Indonesia and Senegal which have similarities with Nigeria, said the two countries which had a very high poverty and mortality rate have been able to reduce their’s by 60%.
He therefore expressed concern over poor funding of family planning in Nigeria pointing out that the Federal Government annual budget of 15% had dropped to 3.9%.
“We need commitment, dedication and perseverance until we achieve the set target contained in the nation’s scale up plan. We have no reason to fail”, the traditional ruler advised.
The Consultative meeting featured the launch of the new national Child Spacing Logo, The Green Dot, by the Kaduna State Head of Service, Mrs Bariatu Mohammed.
States of the North East and North-West Region which participated in the meeting were Borno, Adamawa Gombe Bauchi, Taraba and Yobe. Others were Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Jigawa, Kebbi and the host, Kaduna.
Had as its theme “Reaching Those Farthest and Behind”, the meeting was supported by the UNPFA, Track 20, NURHI II, Population council, SFH A360 and MNCH2.