Thursday, 19 May 2011

MALARIA: Nigeria: Maternal deaths still high

19 May 2011 : Olayinka Olukoya
Maternal deaths still high in Nigeria - Expert •Malaria kills 4,500 pregnant women in Nigeria yearly -Ogun Health Commissioner

A reproductive health expert, Dr Ejike Oji, says maternal mortality rate is still high in Nigeria and requires urgent attention to check the trend.
Oji is the Country Director of IPAS Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation that protects women's health and advances women's reproductive rights.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday, that in spite of efforts made by government and stakeholders, maternal mortality rate was still high in Nigeria.
He said that Nigeria was second to India in maternal deaths in the world.
“If you look at the maternal mortality rate, which is an indicator of maternal health in any country, a few years ago, our maternal mortality was one thousand one hundred.
“But the last check has now put it at 545 maternal deaths for every hundred thousands live births.
“But you can see that 545 is still huge, is still very, very high when you compare it to some countries who have maternal mortality of about five, four.
“And that means , it is translating to about fifty something thousand women dying annually in Nigeria.
“That is a lot of women dying. In fact, Nigeria contributes second largest maternal deaths in the world after India.
“And you know, India is 1.2 billion and we are just about 152 million. So, India is 10 times our size and we are second to them in terms of total maternal deaths in the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Isiaq Salako, has disclosed that about 4,500 pregnant women die of malaria in the country annually.
Salako spoke during a symposium to commemorate this year’s World Malaria Day, which took place in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Wednesday.
Describing malaria as a major public health problem which ravages Nigeria’s population, the commissioner lamented that the scourge affects the growth and development of the country.
He also estimated that 50 per cent of the population had at least one episode of malaria each year while children below five years of age had two to four attacks of malaria each year.
Malaria, he stressed, remains a great threat to the survival of the young African children, accounting for 30 per cent of all childhood deaths.
The commissioner, who addressed participants at the symposium, stated that the major burden of diseases in the African region, including Nigeria, is attributable to vector-borne diseases.
He said: “The disease malaria is no respecter of age, sex or tribe. People of all ages have regular attacks throughout their lives.
“However, young children and pregnant women are most at risk of severe malaria and death.
‘’Malaria also contributes to other children deaths by affecting immunity to other diseases. Successful malaria control measures could therefore result in a large reduction of deaths more than that due to malaria alone.”
‘’We must all be concerned in malaria in pregnancy, whether we are still within the child-bearing age or not. It is our responsibilities to make sure that we do everything humanly possible to prevent and control the menace of malaria in our society.
‘’For us in Ogun State, we believe that prevention is better than cure. It is not only better to prevent malaria, but it is also cheaper. He urged pregnant women not to hesitate to always go for ante-natal.
According to him, it was estimated that 80 per cent to 90 per cent of global clinical malaria cases (300 million) and malaria-related deaths (one million) occur on the African continent in Nigeria.
He added that about 40 per cent of the population of the world is at risk and about 300 to 500 million cases occur globally every year.

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