February 7, 2023

Lara Adejoro

The Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria has lamented the high rate of maternal death in the country, saying Nigeria is nowhere near achieving the Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.

The SOGON President, Dr Habi Sadauki, said this, on Saturday, in Abuja at a press conference supported by the Partnership for Advocacy in child and family health At Scale anchored by the Development Research and Projects Centre and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The press conference was for the society’s 56th Annual General Meeting and 11th international scientific conference which was held from November 22-25, 2022, with the theme, “Improving reproductive health and rights towards sustainable development”.

Dr. Sadauki said the set time for achieving the SDGs in 2030 was fast approaching, but the indices related to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights are still far off the set targets.

“Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate is still among the highest in the world, with an estimated 512 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is nowhere near the SDG’s target of 70 per 100,000 Live births.”

The Reportr Door reports that SDG target 3.1 is to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.

Sadauki said “There is still a lack of access to and utilisation of family planning services in Nigeria, with only 22 per cent of women using any method of family planning, including modern methods.

“Gender-Based Violence is still dominant in Nigeria, with one in three women reporting one form of physical, sexual abuse, among others.”

He, however, called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to give assent to the Maternal Perinatal and Child Death Surveillance and Response Bill to serve as one of his indelible legacies to the people of Nigeria.

“The Maternal Perinatal and Child Death Surveillance and Response is a laudable intervention that can potentially reduce maternal and newborn deaths. It empowers each community, health facility, and state to reflect on deaths incurred in their domain and respond with locally appropriate solutions for preventing the reoccurrence of similar deaths.

“SOGON calls on Mr President to give assent to the MPCDSR Bill before him to serve as one of his indelible legacies to the people of Nigeria.

“There is a need to ensure access to safe abortion to reduce the high rates of deaths and morbidities associated with unsafe abortions.”

He added that unsafe abortion is a significant contributor to maternal death.

“The statistic varies nationally but unsafe abortion can contribute as much as 25 per cent of death. In some places, it can be about 12 per cent but the average will be about 15 per cent nationally. So, it is a significant contributor to maternal mortality.

“There is a need to address issues around it including enlightening the public to know that they don’t have to be pregnant when they are not ready for pregnancy. The government should look into the law and see what can be done.

“As a society, supported by many partners, we have developed a tool called termination pregnancy under medical conditions. Somebody may become pregnant with heart disease and we know that it is not safe for that person to have a termination of pregnancy but based on identified medical conditions that can complicate that pregnancy and lead to the death of the mother, she can be allowed.

“We need to review the law generally because when we talk about abortion in this country, people shy away from it, they feel it is not proper but we know that people are dying.”

The gynaecologist also said there is also a need to invest more in family planning in the 2023 budget if health for all by 2030 is to be realised.

“Health systems need innovative strengthening to ensure universal access to quality sexual reproductive health and rights. This includes addressing the human resources for health issues arising from brain drain.

“There is a need to implement existing guidelines and protocols for cancer prevention and management in Nigeria, especially gynaecological cancers.

“Appropriate legislation is required to tackle the high rate of Gender Based Violence in Nigeria,” he noted.

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