The House of Representatives has called on governments at all levels to make qualitative antenatal services provided by trained and skilled health workers at primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities, free and accessible.
Rising from its plenary on Tuesday, the green chamber of the National Assembly also urged the federal government to take a firm stand in aiding maternal child health in Nigeria and specifically, tackle challenges related to health and nutrition, education, agriculture, livelihoods, gender equality and other vital issues.
In a motion moved by Hon. Aishatu Jibril Dukku, Member representing Dukku/Nafada Federal Constituency of Gombe State, the House identified “some social-economic factors that contribute to maternal mortality and birth related injuries, to include, ineffective government policies on maternal health; poverty and malnutrition; ill-equipped hospitals and gender inequalities”.
The House also identified “cultural issues, such as pressure on girls to marry early and give birth to numerous children, preferences to deliver children at home and mistrust of family planning services as factors that aid maternal death”.
It could be recalled that a report by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) indicated that Nigeria loses about 145 women of childbearing age every day, during pregnancies, from causes that could have been prevented.
The alarming report according to Hon. Dukku, further “states that the country loses about 2300 under five year olds every day”.
Hon. Dukku was specifically worried that the likelihood of a woman dying during pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria was reported at 1 in 13 cases and it was higher in women living in rural areas and poorer communities.
The UNICEF report also showed that Nigeria is the next country after India with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
The House was, therefore, concerned that underneath these alarming statistics is the pain of human tragedy, which has far reaching adverse effects as it renders children motherless, thus depriving them of maternal care that is necessary for proper physiological and psychological development.
To this effect, the House unanimously resolved to call on the federal government to take necessary steps in improving maternal health.