Doctors advocate free antenatal services to reduce maternal deaths



WORRIED by the high rate of pregnancy related deaths in the country, medical doctors have called on governments at all levels in the country to make quality antenatal services, provided by trained and skilled health workers at primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities free and accessible.

The medical experts at a media forum, on Tuesday in Lagos, with journalists on Maternity Health Accountability, also said that most women prefer to deliver at traditional birth homes to hospitals yet the Traditional Birth Attendance (TBAs) are not skilled or trained to deliver women during complications.

They said these women visit the hospitals during pregnancy but go to the traditional birth homes to deliver their babies. The medical experts include: Former Chairman, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board (LSPHCB), Yinka Abosede; and Representative of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Dr. Yinka Omobolu.

Speaking on the reasons women prefer the traditional birth homes to hospitals, Omobolu, said that the attitude of some of the health workers to patients could be that of rudeness, lack of funds to pay for hospital bills and extra charges demanded by the hospital, low care or no medical attention.

She said: “Women are detained for not being able to pay up hospital bills, extra fees the women are asked to pay in the hospitals, some discriminatory attitude of the nurses towards their patient as an emergency patient may be attended to before the walk-in patients.”

Speaking about the causes of maternal deaths in Nigeria, Abosede said that maternal deaths occur from medical and social causes. According to her, “Hemorrhage causes maternal mortality. Lagos state has being able to put in place the facilities that can help to prevent death from bleeding.

Another cause is that of sepsis, which means infection, abortion especially a first timer having to do it with the help of a traditionalist and the other, Eclampsia, which is death, associated with high blood pressure and convulsion”.

In order to avoid more deaths in the country, Dr. Abosede emphasized on the need for public orientation and sex education in schools, training of traditional birth attendants, midwives services scheme, house to house service by community health extension workers (CHEWS), improved access to health care facilities whether rich or poor, poverty reduction, train and retrain health workers on health interpersonal relations and communicators as well as socio-cultural factors peculiar to the community of operations, provision of good transport facilities, two-way referral system in which feedback can be received between the referred and the referee of the patient and awareness creation by the media.

She urged individuals who have vehicles in the communities to help women in labour to hospital and tasked government on the need for increased funding and monitoring of the health sector.

However, apart from death caused by poor medical care, Dr. Abosede added that it can also occur through carelessness. “The food we eat, if not well cooked can cause problem to our system, the intake of hot drinks like ‘ogogoro’, ‘paraga’ and others can be harmful to system, how well and often we exercise, that is frequent exercising helps put the body in good balance, emotions as a result of stress, communicable diseases affects the body response.” She advised that herbs should not be consumed in place of medicine.

According to her, “About forty-three thousand suffer from dialysis per day, so do not drink but can be used to wash your body”. She also advised that self-medication should not be administered: “Safe self medication is good if you have good knowledge of what you are suffering from.”

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