Yesterday, there was a plane crash in Nigeria killing all passengers on board yet even our very active and forceful media, traditional and social, were quiet. I will spare no ink for our government: it’s the classic “we are shocked by this tragedy. A committee will be set up to investigate the remote and immediate cause of this national calamity…”
Maybe our ‘no care’ attitude towards women and children can be an explanation to our response to the crash because the passengers on board the ill fated Child and Maternal Mortality Air are all women and children
Going down memory lane, I recall how agog our media spaces were when we received news of the Dana air crash that occurred in Lagos in June last year. I too lost a friend. It was a sad moment for me I am sure, every Nigerian. This crash was news. 153 people lost their lives on that plane that fateful day.
However, the Nigerian child and maternal mortality statistics makes mockery of the Dana crash numbers because, as we approach 2015, the date set for attaining the MDGs many women and children still die in Nigeria.
About 53,000 women die every year, which means one woman dying every 10 minutes.
They die from complications during pregnancy and delivery, which include: excessive bleeding (or hemorrhage), Infections, Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure leading to convulsions, unsafe abortion, anaemia, malaria, and obstructed labour
The situation of children is even worse. About 1 million children under the age of 5 years die every year. That translates into 114 deaths every hour. One out of every four of these deaths (about 250,000) is of a newborn—a baby less than one month old! These children die mainly from: complications of low birth weight; Inability to begin breathing after birth (asphyxia); infections; malaria; and pneumonia. Most of them die on the first day or the first week of life.
The unacceptable situation of women and children is such that if we do not arrest the trends in maternal and child health, Nigeria will not attain the goal 4 and 5 of the MDGs.
I hear that if current efforts, mainly by international development agencies are anything to go by; they can only lead to reduction of the present child death rate of 195 in every 1,000 live births to miserly 176 by 2015, instead of the nation’s MDG 4 target, which is 77 deaths out of every 1,000 live births.
Similarly, deaths among women due to pregnancy and childbirth is estimated at 608 deaths per 100,000 deliveries, ranking Nigeria second only to India in the list of nations with the worst child and maternal mortality rates.
Poverty and the people’s inability to pay for health care in Nigeria is one of the major factors behind the high maternal and Under-5 mortality rates. Indeed, despite the enormous income from oil over the last 40 years, more than 71 per cent of Nigerians are still poor, and the majority of these are women living in the rural areas, where the maternal mortality rate is more than double that in the urban areas. Health consumers generally have to pay for treatment at the point of delivery, but the majority cannot do so because they do not have the means or any form of health insurance. The cost of health care therefore greatly limits access for the vast majority of poor people who need it the most
Many sad stories come out of Nigeria and one of them is Boko Haram who reportedly killed many people mainly in the North of the country yet, a greater than Boko Haram is here. The time to act and save our women and children is now.