Unsafe abortion, child marriage fueling maternal mortality –Gynaecologist

A reproductive health and family planning specialist, Dr. Habeeb Salami, says Nigeria should start paying attention to health complications that contribute to maternal and child mortality.

Salami identified the complications, which he said could be fatal when left unattended, as haemorrhage, high blood pressure, obstructed labour, child marriage, unsafe abortion and malaria in pregnancy.

Salami, a programme manager with Pathfinder International, spoke on Friday at the maiden edition of PUNCH Digital Town Hall titled, ‘Strengthening the Nigerian maternal and child health through clinical and community-based interventions.’

“Nigeria needs to start paying attention to issues relating to child and maternal mortality.

“It is so important if we are to prevent fatal complications in pregnancy such as haemorrhage, high blood pressure, obstructed labour, child marriage, unsafe abortion and malaria in pregnancy.

“The challenge facing the government is that maternal health complications are expensive to treat when they arise. But that wouldn’t be necessary when family planning is embraced as a preventive measure to prevent child and maternal mortality,” he said.

Salami, who is also a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology, expressed concerns that there is a growing trend of people conceiving without any plan to take care of the children.

“This is why planned parenthood is important. It is about spacing after couples have decided on the number of children to have,” he said.

Stressing the importance of male engagement in maternal health issues, Salami said, “There is the need for significant engagement with boys and men on the rights of women in our society.

“They need to understand the essence of getting married before considering having children.”

‘We are also engaging religious leaders on family planning,” he added; noting that the holy books are not against it.

“Churches and mosques should discourage worshippers from having children they cannot cater for,” he counselled.

According to Advanced Family Planning, an initiative launched in 2009 at the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Nigeria’s 2019 Appropriation Bill drastically reduced the budget for family planning by 90 per cent, compared to the 2018 budget.

The total allocation for family planning in 2019 was N300m, as against N2.9bn in 2018.

The AFP noted that the bill was eventually signed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) on May 27, 2019 after months of deliberations.

“The Ministry of Budget and National Planning released the budget publicly on May 30, 2019, which caused a stir within the family planning community.

“This dramatic reduction is in sharp contrast with the government of Nigeria’s stated political and past financial support for family planning,” it stated.

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