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Akwa-Ibom, Cross River states women don’t attend clinics anymore –  Prof. Ujah


… Calls on state governments to act and curb pregnant women’s death fast


Prof. Ujah
Prof. Ujah

Former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Prof Innocent Achanya Ujah has called on the governments of Akwa-Ibom and Cross River states to act fast to stem the high rate of death among pregnant women noting that women in the states don’t attend clinics anymore.

In an exclusive interview with NHO, Prof Ujah said women in the state now rely on prayer houses to deliver their babies, which is why, according to him, the death of pregnant women is so high in the two states.

“Nigeria has much problems. Prayer houses, not churches, are the number one problem. In Akwa-Ibom and Cross River states, women don’t attend clinics anymore. They go to prayer houses to deliver their babies.

“True, they need education. But why should anyone be educated if she can’t decide what is good or bad? You can still go and pray but you should avail yourself for medical services.”

He disclosed that no fewer than 40, 000 women die every year across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria during childbirth. This, he said, means that the country loses 110 women every 24 hours and five women every hour.

Prof. Ujah listed three factors responsible for the appalling indices: poverty, illiteracy, bad health system/attitude of health professionals towards patients.

“Our maternal mortality indices is appalling. That is the reason we need to fight the factors responsible. If women are educated, it will reduce the rate of deaths in pregnancy. In the North, no woman leaves the home without permission from her husband even while in labour. If she is educated, she doesn’t need his permission. Once labour starts, she can take a cab and go her way.”

He reminisced about an ugly experience he once had:  “I’ve operated with torch before, not in a teaching hospital, in an outreach. I was already operating when the light went off. Can anybody want to do that in a developed country? If you don’t do that, the patient and the baby would die. So, we are working under a very difficult circumstance in this country. But I’m happy that things are changing.”

According to him, being a graduate does not mean the individual is wise. “Even graduates compete to have many children. Many of such women have been buried and another woman have taken their places.”

Ujah warned health professionals on their attitudes towards their patients, especially pregnant women. “Our health workers need to change their attitude towards our patients. We should talk to them rather than talk at them.”

He acknowledged that if every health worker treats patients as though they were their own sisters or relatives in labour, then their attitude will be better to the patients.

While urging every home to embrace and preach the gospel of family planning to reduce maternal deaths, he however noted that there are all sorts of cultural, religious and traditional misconceptions about it.

“The pills (medicine) you take while on FP wears off within one week or one month. Then you can decide to stop it to get pregnant again.”

He, therefore, urged that women across Nigeria should be educated and empowered while the health system is improved, adding that Family Planning would help reduce the deaths of pregnant women in childbirth.

“FP is an option we must all embrace. And we should preach it. No woman who is on effective family planning gets pregnant. And if you don’t get pregnant, you don’t die of childbirth. When you are ready for another pregnancy, then you stop using the method to get pregnant again,” he stressed.

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