Sunday, April 12, 2015

We Can Do Better On Maternal Health

LIFE—the single most invaluable God-given gift—doesn’t have to be constantly in needless avoidable danger. It simply doesn’t have to be. This is worrisomely doesn’t have to be more especially in times humanity endeavors to fulfil nature’s sacred call—procreation.

For instance, it is reported that mother earth lost 289,000 lives of women in 2013 alone due to pregnancy and childbirth related complications. These dear lives of our mothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters could have not have been this needlessly lost were it the case that the governments, state organs, civil society organizations, and the donor community alike were willing enough to do something aimed at making improvements on maternal health.

Any well-meaning nation on earth understands that the progress of any society starts with a decent concern for the health of its people; and more so women. Women are a social fabric of a society: ignore them and you let a hell of problems loose. For if ever has been improvements in life in history the same has been a result of considerable effort from women.

So, it’s about time governments, political players, donors, and all interested parties were doubly proactive on maternal health by doubling both their commitment and resources on this. What exactly we need to see in this respect is a widening of the access to medical care during pregnancy and after childbirth. Additionally, there is also expected that there will be deployed enough skilled medical personnel to attend to pregnant women.

Our hospitals are fast becoming deathtraps for pregnant women. And that is contrary to the cherished expectations of a life as a mother in this 21st century world. The journey to motherhood has, since time immemorial, been a cherished one. Why should it have to change now? For what and on what grounds?

That’s why the story in The Nation of 3 February, 2015 of a woman at Edingeni giving birth without health workers conjures up images of a nation disrespecting motherhood. There was a woman, a good citizen for that matter, who having been civic-educated on the disadvantages of delivering without skilled health worker, goes to a public hospital to deliver. But alas she gets a cold shoulder. What a sorry irony! That woman’s story is sure one that is shared by a hundred or so pregnant and would-be pregnant women in our nation and one thing is for sure; there’s need for serious thinking and re-thinking on maternal health.

Yes, we are poor. But we are not that poor as to fail to afford to save a life that’s geared towards bringing a new one. Yes, we’re not that damned as to be incapable of appreciating the nobility of motherhood. Neither are we that naive as to pretend that all is well with the way public hospitals attend to pregnant women. That’s why we need as a nation to make the sacrifices where possible in this important area. There have to be available in all public hospitals quality maternal health services for appropriate and specialized care during pregnancy, labour, and delivery.

The point here isn’t that we aren’t doing anything; we’re, only that whatever we’re doing on this life-or-death aspect of life for women isn’t any adequate: more and a lot have to be done.

So, whatever the justifications from the authorities, the nation is well aware that something is amiss in our hospitals in the area of maternal health. It needs not be emphasized that the insolence from some quarters of the medical personnel is already a minus.

It is hoped that a vibrant health system that attends to pregnant women diligently, that offers specialized maternal health assistance empathetically, that respects the decency of women passionately, can, for at least a moment, save our nation from the negative publicity on maternal health disaster like the Edingeni case or many similar unreported and unrecorded others. Yes, we can do better on maternal health.


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