Maternal Mortality and the levels of Delay

Before you finish reading this post, (about 2 minutes) at least one woman will have died from causes related to pregnancy, childbirth or the puerperium. In Nigeria, a WHO report in the year 2020 states that the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is about 814 per 100,000 live births; compared to that of the US which is only 20.1.

95% of the causes of maternal deaths are preventable. These problems can be solved by poverty alleviation, education/enlightenment and availability/accessibility of basic maternal care services.

Let’s cone it down to a very important problem, simply know as delay. Delay occurs at 3 levels:

1. Delay in identifying the problem, and making the decision to seek medical help. This is largely due to ignorance, cultural practices and poverty. We are in 2021,and some women would still bleed to death while waiting for their husband’s “permission” to seek help! Isn’t it appalling? Ample time is also lost in the process of seeking help from the wrong places and the wrong persons…

2. Delay in arrival at the health facility. This is to be blamed on poverty (again), long home-to-hospital distances, poor transportation services coupled with bad roads. Maternal health centres should be available within a few metres radius from residential areas. The developed world has gone ahead in this regard, with the widespread availability of free ambulance services with efficient communication in case of emergencies.

3. Delay in provision of medical care.  For those who make it to the hospital, they still have to wait for the registration and triage (often overcrowded and haphazard), wait for the doctor to arrive (because he is the only one managing a huge number of patients) and wait at every point of contact within the hospital (pharmacy, cashier, blood bank, laboratory, etc)

The change begins with us. There’s an overwhelming amount of information out there, such that ignorance is no more an excuse. Learn and pass on the message. Our government has failed us and we all know it, but while we’re complaining, let’s all get busy doing something (no matter how small) to reduce maternal mortality.

Save time. Save life.