• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
businessday logo


Babies, pregnant mothers record one death every 11 seconds says UN

Babies, pregnant mothers’ records one death every 11 seconds says UN

Women and newborns are most vulnerable during and immediately after childbirth. An estimated 2.8 million pregnant women and newborns die every year, or once every eleven seconds die mostly of preventable causes says Thursday a new estimate by the United Nations groups led by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The estimates also show vast inequalities worldwide, with women and children in sub-Saharan Africa facing a substantially higher risk of death than in all other regions, noting that the levels of maternal deaths are nearly 50 times higher for women in sub-Saharan Africa and their babies are 10 times more likely to die in their first month of life, compared to high-income countries.

Maternal mortality remains unacceptably high in Nigeria. Currently, the country is the highest contributor to maternal mortality in Central and Western Africa and contributes 14 percent to the global maternal mortality rate. According to UNICEF, a woman’s chance of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is 1 in 13.

“In countries that provide everyone with safe, affordable, high-quality health services, women and babies survive and thrive,” said  Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “This is the power of universal health coverage.”

Children face the highest risk of dying in the first month, especially if they are born too soon or too small, have complications during birth, congenital defects, or contract infections. About a third of these deaths occur within the first day and nearly three quarters in the first week alone.

According to research conducted by RedCare HMO in Nigeria, it revealed post-partum hemorrhage as a leading cause of maternal deaths, closely followed by hypertensive disorders, especially eclampsia.

“One of the biggest lapses amongst medical professionals is the inability to detect these complications in time or notice early signs. It is disheartening that a lot of these deaths could have been prevented, as essential interventions reaching babies and women timely would have averted most of the deaths recorded,” the report states.

The UN’s data further reveals that women in sub-Saharan Africa face a 1 in the 37-lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth. By comparison, the lifetime risk for a woman in Europe is 1 in 6500.

Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia account for around 80 percent of global maternal and child deaths. Countries in conflict or humanitarian crises often have weak health systems that prevent women and children from accessing essential lifesaving care.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director said around the world, birth is a joyous occasion. Yet, every 11 seconds, a birth is a family tragedy.

“A skilled pair of hands to help mothers and newborns around the time of birth, along with clean water, adequate nutrition, basic medicines, and vaccines, can make the difference between life and death. We must do all it takes to invest in universal health coverage to save these precious lives,” Fore added.