Women remain the custodians of mores and conventions in family life today.
Nkechi got married at 38 to a man of her dreams. Finally after many months of preparedness, she equips her nursery and her loving husband, on his birthday, takes her to the hospital to be delivered of the child she so hankered after.
The child is brought home but Nkechi never lived to hold the baby in her hands. Right there with fibroid complications, Nkechi gives up the ghost and her son, now 2 years old, learns to cope with different caregivers and a father who experiences bittersweet emotions every time his birthday comes around.
Hers is just one of the many cases that remain unsung.
Her family is still grieving with telling reminders of the tragedy that easily could have been averted.
According to UNICEF, out of over 6 million births in 2008 in Nigeria, One million and Seventy Seven thousand (1,077,000) babies died before age 5.
Maternal mortality is put at 1 (one) in every 18 (eighteen) births. This is an astronomical projection that does not bode well.
According to the Federal Office of Statistics,
‘Nigeria is reported to have one of the highest occurrences of maternal mortality in the world with figures ranging from 704 to 1,500 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Figures based on the results of the 1999 Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) show a wide variation from 166 per 100,000 live births in the South West to 1,549 per 100,000 live births in the North East, with a national average of 704 deaths per 100,000 live births’
Analysts have stated that poverty is the major reason for this mortality rate. It is what drives families to quacks or unqualified doctors without knowledge of how to preserve human life.
‘Poverty exists when people lack the means to satisfy their basic needs’ and this is driving many women closer to their graves.
More than 70 percent of maternal deaths in Nigeria are due to five major complications:
3. unsafe abortion
4. hypertensive disease of pregnancy and
5. obstructed labour.
Also, poor access to and utilization of quality reproductive health services contribute significantly to the high maternal mortality level in Nigeria.
According to the 2003 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, 30 percent of Nigerian women cited the problem of getting money for treatment, while 24 percent cited the problems of accessibility to health facilities and transportation.
Also, 17 percent reported the problem of not getting a female provider in the hospital, while 14 percent reported the problem of not wanting to go alone. Again, 14 percent reported the problem of ignorance of where to go for treatment, while one in ten women complained of the bottlenecks in getting permission from their spouses.
Enter Sweet Mother International
The entry of Sweet Mother International, a Non-Governmental Organisation, with headquarters in Australia, into this terrain, is so heart-warming and welcome.
Across the world, SMI has intervened and contributed immensely to the lessening of the many circumstances resulting in aggravations for women.
With objectives to assist displaced or refugee mothers affected by war or disaster, Sweet Mother International (SMI) provides volunteer services and provision of relief materials.
‘The organization also, embarks on rehabilitation and care for widow, destitute, aged women and old-women-without-children. Mothers with HIV/AIDS are assisted to regain confidence in their homes. SMI provide these women with basic resource, knowledge and tools to enable them cope with their challenges.’
SMI in Nigeria
SMI has instituted the SAVE campaign in Nigeria. The SAVE campaign is actually focused on saving African Women from Pregnancy Related Deaths.
Click here to read more about SMI Nigeria.