A health professional, Malam Lawal Abubakar, Chairman, Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON) in Kaduna State, has revealed that high poverty level is responsible for 56.6% of maternal deaths in Nigeria.
He made this known in his presentation at a “Media Africa Conference” organized by Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF), supported by Pathfinders International, Nigeria Urban Reproductive Health Initiative, Development Communication (DevComs), Network, Kaduna State Government and Nigeria Union of Journalists, with the theme: “MNCH in Nigeria: Progress, Opportunities and Challenges: Role of the Media in Curbing Maternal Death”.
According to him, “high Poverty Level More than half (56 6%) of Nigerians are living in absolute poverty which is blocking them from accessing health services.
“Large 0ut-Of-Pocket Expenditures Almost three quarter (72%) of health spending in Nigeria is from households (out-of pocket), while 25% is by government, and 3% from other sources (WHO 2014).
“Low female literacy level 40 7% of women age 15-24 years in Nigeria are illiterate, leading to poor health seeking behaviors (MICS 2016 17).”
Lawal added that “cultural/gender barriers amount to 11. 7%, because these women have to seek for permission to go for treatment, according to (NDHS 2013).
Weak health system, distribution of health workforce, out of stock of essential medicines and equipment, poor government funding and dilapidated health infrastructure, especially at the PHC level is also contributing.
He therefore, recommend the “establishment of health insurance scheme by all states in the federation for formal and informal sector, to pool funds together and reduce high out-of-pocket expenditures by households increase government spending (budget and expenditure) in the health sector to strengthen the weak health system that responds to the needs of women and girls.
“Tackling other social determinants of health that are structural in nature: poverty, female education and gender inequality. Addressing all causes of maternal mortality, reproductive and maternal morbidities, and related disabilities.
Delivering her welcome address, Coordinator of AMDF, Sekyen Dadik, noted that, National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2013 pegs the national figure at 576 deaths per 100,000 live births. But Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015 as conducted by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group, and the United Nations Population Division.
She added that maternal mortality still remains high in Nigeria with the North part contributing the greatest share. This she Suggests a figure as high as 814 deaths per 100,000 live births.
“No doubt this is alarming, and calls for all hands to be on deck to overcome the challenge. Nigeria, especially northern states must change their approach.
“One potent tool to carry the campaign further is the media it has proven to be successful in many campaigns through policy advocacy and social mobilization.
“We believe the media need to be engaged the more as advocate of development issues, this will reduce fatigue on the part of Government, Partners, NGOs CSOs, and yield good results.
“We therefore recommend an active engagement of the media by development partners, civil society organizations and professional organizations, as against inviting them to cover events and other publicity seeking activities.
“The engagement should be towards exposing and building capacity of the journalists to do stories that are issue driven and work towards contributing to development goals. Sekyen, said.