Dr Kayode Afolabi, the Director and Head of the Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health, on Thursday said that no fewer than 50,000 women die annually in Nigeria due to maternal causes.
Afolabi made this assertion at an Orientation/Data Quality Assessment meeting with family health stakeholders on National Self-Care/ Self Injection Guidelines in Akure.
He said that the statistics generated from the National Demographic Health Survey report connotes that seven women die every one hour from maternal health causes.
The reproductive health expert said that these deaths were avoidable, hence the need for the self-care initiative in the country’s health system.
The director stated that family planning still remained the preventive method to reduce maternal mortality, stressing that unplanned pregnancies were usually characterised by risk and could lead to death.
Afolabi said that self-care guideline was about individuals and families protecting their health and accessing healthcare without delay.
He said that the initiative targeted everyone, but used maternal health as entry point.
“Self-care is an innovative method to support universal health coverage and we are using reproductive maternal health as an entry into self-care in Nigeria.
“It is putting us in charge of our health, to be more responsible to our health and therefore promote it.
“We believe that this will improve our health system especially the most vulnerable, women and children,” he said.
Afolabi commended the Ondo state government for its readiness to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Health in achieving the goals of the initiative.
According to him, Ondo State is the 13th state to have accepted to implement the initiative.
Mrs. Folukemi Aladenola, Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Health, commended the initiative.
She added that the initiative would be very beneficial to women especially because they would be able to take care of themselves by embracing family planning.
“Now, women will be taught and trained on how to do it for themselves and they can take responsibility for their own health,” the permanent secretary said.
Aladenola, represented by Mrs. Alice Ogundele, Director of Nursing Services, Ondo State Ministry of Health, urged participants to make best use of what would be passed across to them by the facilitators.
According to her, this will enable them to train their clients in different local government areas”.
In his remarks, Dr Adewole Adefalu, the Country Coordinator of John Snow Incorporated, explained that the organisation was supporting the Federal Ministry of Health in the initiative.
Adefalu noted that self-care guideline would stop women and girls from avoidable deaths from unwanted pregnancies.
“These are our sisters and neighbours. These deaths are unnecessary because there are remedies to use.
“Self-care is one of those innovations to reduce unnecessary deaths”, he said.
The country coordinator said that self-care offers individuals the opportunity to take ownership for their health and empower them to use simple measures of addressing health challenges.
“They are not depending totally on health facilities. When trained, they can go home and use it and achieve family planning desired goals.
“It gives women optimal access to methods that can help their health,” Adefalu stated.
Mrs. Jumoke Awosika, a nurse and one of the participants, said that the initiative was a good one for drastic reduction of maternal mortality, adding that it would be accessible and free.( NAN)