DOCTORS HEALTH INITIATIVE MATERNAL MORTALITY REDUCTION CAMPAIGN PROJECT
Health care is a basic necessity. Doctors Health Initiative (DHI) is a human rights organization dedicated to the development and maintenance of healthy family life. Given the pivotal role women play in meeting the health needs of the family, their own health is our top priority. Women deserve quality health care especially maternal care. No woman should face the risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth yet women in Nigeria are estimated to have a 1 in 13 lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy related complications.
Largely for lack of emergency obstetric care approximately 4000 women’s lives are lost monthly in Nigeria. That is the closest estimate for how many and how often mothers die during pregnancy and delivery in this country. For every mother lost there are 20 others who suffer some permanent disability or other. This picture is not complete till we count the number of pre-born and new born children who also die in the process, an estimated 7000 innocent lives.
A graphic representation of the above situation is the equivalent of ten 747 planes each carrying ONLY pregnant women, 400 in each plane crashing monthly in this country! Unbelievable but true.
The number ONE CAUSE of these deaths is HAEMORRHAGE (UNCONTROLLED BLEEDING). It accounts for 23% of maternal deaths. Availability of safe blood is crucial to reducing maternal mortality. Even in cosmopolitan Lagos, many gaps in health care coverage exist. For instance, a pregnant woman in Lekki Phase 1, who requires an emergency blood transfusion, must have her blood sent to the closest blood bank which is in Victoria Island to have it tested before the right blood is brought to her. Cutting down transit time by using an okada, this blood transfusion processing will take one and a half hours. DEATH FROM BLEEDING IN PREGNANCY TAKES LESS THAN ONE HOUR!
It is painfully clear why many of our wives, sisters and daughter s are dying daily.
DHI is officially launching a maternal mortality reduction campaign with the aim of preventing these unnecessary deaths. It aims to do so through sensitization and advocacy to get community participation in resolving these issues. The last stage of this campaign will be the blood banks project with the aim of contributing to the provision of emergency obstetric care nation wide. Establishing blood banks in underserved areas to function as bases for mobile emergency obstetric care units is our strategy to bridge the gap in our health care system. These units will be set up in phases and will need to develop working relationships with communities especially with the many traditional birth attendants who are the first point of contact in these emergencies.
Another dark chapter in the story of maternal mortality in Nigeria is that which deals with the sad issue of abortion. 11% of women who die while pregnant do so as a result of complications of abortion and close to 60% of these are teenagers. It is our desire that our emergency obstetric care centers offer a culturally and socially acceptable solution to it through our Crisis Pregnancy Care (CPC).
Through Crisis Pregnancy Care, mothers and teenagers in crisis can easily access encouragement and support to face these crises. We wish to offer this service as an urgently needed alternative to the double tragedy of abortion which is violence to the nurturing nature of the mother and fatal to the child. This is especially true of our teenage daughters and sisters who are at high risk of suffering physical and psychological complications related to abortion. Such abortion related complications include hemorrhages, lacerations, infections etc and post-abortion syndrome (a spectrum of mental disorders following abortion).