One of the key areas of focus for SpringAid International Development (SAID Nigeria) work is Health and Wellbeing Promotion. Therefore, we are joining the international community to celebrate World Health Day.

Millions of people still have no access at all to health care. Millions more are forced to choose between health care and other daily expenses such as food, clothing and even a home. This is why WHO is focusing on universal health coverage for this year’s World Health Day, today Sunday 7 April 2019.

Health doesn't happen in a vacuum – it's affected by a range of factors: social, cultural, environmental, biological, economic, and more. Understanding and addressing these factors is integral to improving the health of everyone, particularly the most marginalized.

The Nigerian health system is plagued by challenges of service quality, unfriendly staff attitudes to patients, inadequate skills, decaying infrastructure, chronic shortage of essential drugs etc,. Health is said to be wealth and poverty exists where people do not have the means to certify their basic needs.

Pregnancy and the period surrounding it is a dangerous time for too many of the 9.2 million women and girls who become pregnant in Nigeria each year. They face a lifetime risk of maternal death of 1 in 13 compared to 1 in 31 for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. We know that a child whose mother dies in childbirth is 3 to 10 times more likely to die before his or her second birthday.

Resource poor nations such as Nigeria must address the social determinants of health and the fundamental role they play in reducing health inequalities and improving lives. The way medicine is practiced in many countries in Africa especially in Nigeria fails short of the principle of showing care. The consequences of this is the uncaring attitude of many health care providers in Nigerian hospitals and clinics.

Millions of people in the world die of surgically treatable conditions. For instance, every day around 800 women die because of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, infection, hypertensive disease of pregnancy, obstructed labour, postpartum hemorrhage, PPH, preventable through the administration of ab effective uterotonic to the mother immediately after the birth of her baby.

Nearly all these deaths occur in low-resource settings and are preventable. The main reasons for not surviving the birth of your child are bleeding, pre-eclampsia and infections. Bill Gates drawing from available statistics has said that Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth and the 4th in country with the worst maternal mortality rate ahead of Sierra Leone, Central Africa Republic and Chad. While global maternal mortality has dropped by 43 percent since 1990, Nigeria still rank highest among sub-Saharan African nations with high maternal deaths.

Tragically, of the 3003, 000 women that died globally because of complications of pregnancy and childbirths in 2015, 58,000 women died in Nigeria. Of all the maternal deaths that could have been prevented, 99 percent occurred in developing countries like Nigeria.

The World Bank estimates that Nigeria’s Maternal Mortality Rate, MMR is still as high as 821 per 100, 000 live births. Nigeria’s estimated annual 40,000 maternal deaths account for about 14% of the global total. In Sweden the corresponding number is 4. And, as in every country in this world, the death of a mother has devastating effects on the loved ones she leaves behind. In a low-resource setting it also gravely impacts the possibilities of her children to have a future at all.

For every 1000 live births in Nigeria 100.2 babies die. In Sweden the figure is 2,4. According to the WHO up to two thirds of the deaths of newborns can be prevented if simple and effective health measures are applied immediately after birth. The main causes of these deaths are infections, birth trauma and poor breathing, all of which can be prevented.

One Nigerian woman dies every 13 minutes – that is 109 women dying each day - from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. For each death, there are an estimated 30 to 50 women who will experience life-long conditions and disabilities such as obstetric fistula.

Most of the deaths could easily be avoided with the right skills. Sadly, many doctors trained by resource poor nations are migrating to rich countries why they can earn fat salaries. The essence of medicine is hardly remembered by many health professionals. It is now all about making as much more for one self as possible.

The medical profession needs to make a self-examination of itself. It no longer in the service of life but in the service of money in many countries. It is a grave injustice to be trained free by a resource poor country and you run away to rich nations just to make money for yourself.

To close the gap in maternal death is the target of SDG 3.1.1, target of fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. If we continue the way we are, we will not achieve this development goal. It is imperative that we seize all available opportunities to accelerate progress for the health of poor and marginalized poor people especially women as we push forward on the broader global goal of universal health coverage.

Let no one be left behind in the fight to achieve the 2030 SDGs. Health care in Nigeria MUST be free to be humane and just.

We know that you will be blessed as you read this and spread the knowledge to protect poor and marginalized pregnant mothers. No one should die in the process of becoming a mother. Please see this as an invitation for you to partner or support SpringAid International Development (SAID Nigeria) Health and Wellbeing Promotion

Dr Mrs Beaty Ihens

SAID Nigeria