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Political Will Lacking to Assess Maternal Deaths

Experts in maternal health continue to push for statutory review of deaths in pregnant women and mothers in efforts to account for the life of every mother, but insist political will is lacking.

This comes as MamaYe, an international advocacy for the health of millions of women, marks its first year in Nigeria and continues to push for maternal death review to be made a compulsory part of health care.

“We want to assess every maternal death, what caused it and make recommendations to stop it,” said Dr Fred Achem, president of Society for Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Nigeria, SOGON.

He said any success at maternal death review in individual states would depend on the understanding of governors to put emphasis on it.

“Free maternal and newborn health programmes are political slogans. Until the state government is ready to put money down every year and have done their studies carefully, those things are just political statements,” Dr Achem said.

A handful of states–Kano, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Delta, Lagos and Ondo–have instituted programmes to provide free services to women and children.

Ondo started official confidential inquiries into deaths of women in 2009 and has seen “tremendous impact” on maternal deaths, said Dr Lawal, who chairs Ondo state committee on confidential maternal deaths inquiry.

“Everybody knows many hospitals are mere working clinics, we have shortage of doctors and nurses, poor roads, poor communication in rural areas where they [patients] can’t even reach us. We know all these things,” he said.

“What makes a difference is that we identify these flaws and we are painstakingly implementing it. That’s where political will comes in. political will does not come in white papers.”

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