FG, states tasked to invest in health sector

Funmi Olaitan, Ibadan

Immediate past chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Oyo State chapter, Mr Muideen Olatunji, has raised an alarm that the country will be harvesting calamities if government at all levels continues to refuse to invest in the heath sector.

Olatunji who is also Medical Officer of Heath, Akinyele local government area, in Oyo State, gave the alarm while delivering a paper titled, "Family planning: Cost effective in tackling maternal health" at a one-day media roundtable for family planning, organized by Development Communication (DEVCOMS) Network, in Ibadan.

While decrying the low budgetary allocations to the health sector over the years by federal, states and local governments, he said this is responsible for most of the deaths the country is recording on daily basis especially among women and children.

He lamented that it was unfortunate that Nigeria as at now still records about 800 deaths out of 100,000 live births among pregnant women, a situation which he said required urgent attention to tackle.

He maintained that the only solution to the problem is for the governments and other stakeholders to invest heavily in the heath sector.

Olatunji stated further that while one woman out of about 4,000 dies as a result of pregnancy related complications in developed countries, about 16 out of 4,000 women die as a result of pregnancy related complications in Nigeria.

He added that less than one percent of maternal and child deaths occur in developed countries as against developing countries like Nigeria where many women and children die as a result of lack of adequate heath care.

He said most of the deaths among pregnant women and children are avoidable if the government and other stakeholders contribute their quota by investing heavily in heath and other critical areas such as education and infrastructural development.

He said, "So, if we refuse to invest in health in Nigeria, we will be harvesting calamities. How can you use a tricycle to go to hinterland and transport pregnant women, it will summersault.

"There should be at least a functional heath centre in each of the administrative wards across the country. There will be facilities and it must be functional. It must have the desired personnel. The question is that, do we have such, all of us know that is no.

"So above all, women have been found of having inadequate heath care in this part of the world. In advance countries, it is 1 out of 4,000 women while in developing countries, it is 1 out of 16 women that dies. Less than one percent of these deaths occurred in developed countries. They could be avoided if resources and service are available. A woman must be very healthy before she is pregnant; because pregnancy is not an easy task. That is why women are stronger than men. No woman should deliver at home due to dangers inherent in child birth.

"It is 800 plus out of 100,000 maternal deaths in Nigeria and 1 out of 100,000 in other countries. Death profile in Nigeria is about 800 plus to 100,000 live births. Risk of maternal deaths is affected by many factors like frequently and spacing of births, nutrition level, structure and maternal age, this is why family planning comes to play. We don't encourage too frequent pregnancy. So, let her eat and refresh for at least 2 years. Extreme of age is another thing.

DEVCOMS Program Officer and Communication, Mrs. Fausiat Balogun, while acknowledging that DEVCOMS is a media-development, capacity-building organization coordinated by experienced development journalists, added that the aim of the round-table was to "create a platform for the discussion of key issues in maternal and child health focusing on family planning".

"Nigeria’s huge population, fueled by high birth rate without good family planning, can be a huge burden with resultant poor health indices such as high maternal and infant deaths. Nigeria’s maternal and child deaths is one of the highest in the world.

"In recognition of the critical role the media plays in agenda setting on matters of national interest. This meeting is to create a platform for the discussion of key issues in Maternal and Child Health focusing on Family Planning", she said.

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