Nigeria must work hard to ensure safe birth and reduce the high maternal and newborn mortality in the country-WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO)has said Nigeria must continue to do all within its powers to ensure safe birth as well as reduce the high maternal and newborn mortality in the country .

The world health body through its Country Representative to Nigeria and Head of Mission, Dr Walter Kazadi disclosed this in his message to mark 2021 World World Patient Safety Day in Abuja.

According to him,Nigeria NDHS 2018 shows that Nigeria has 512/100,000 livebirths and newborn mortality at 39 per 1000 livebirths.

‘A similar picture is seen in the African Region, Africa accounts for nearly 7 out of 10 maternal deaths and 1 out of 3 newborn deaths globally. The major causes of death among pregnant women and mothers are postpartum haemorrhage, hypertensive diseases, and sepsis. Among newborns, the top causes of death include premature birth, babies not getting enough oxygen during birth, and infections.
He added that many of these deaths could be prevented by making sure patients feel safe, respected and that their needs are heard and acted on, and by equipping the health workers with the knowledge, skills and tools to take life-saving action”. We need to do everything to stop the preventable deaths by ensuring our health facilities provide high quality, safe and effective healthcare. 

Dr. Kazadi further lamented that women are confronted with a range of challenges as patients. ‘They often times face physical and verbal abuse, and exclusion from decision-making about their care. For instance, during childbirth, most of our healthcare settings are not set up to allow for pregnant women to have their choice of having a birth companion present or to deliver in their preferred birthing position. New-born rights, to quality care for example, largely go unprotected. 

‘The situation was made worse during the pandemic, some people have avoided seeking care in health facilities, for fear of catching COVID-19 or other infectious diseases. To combat this hesitancy, health systems need to work on building community trust and invest more in good infection prevention and control practices. This includes investing in access to clean water, sanitation and medical waste disposal systems, doing regular refresher training with health workers, and making sure sufficient quantities of gloves, masks and other protective equipment are available. 

‘Care should be provided with compassion and respect, by health workers with the skills to succeed, and in clean and safe environments that prevent the spread of infections. 

He however assured on WHO readiness in working with countries to make this happen by implementing the WHO Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021–2030. We praise Government of Nigeria’s effort in establishing the Patient bill of right and efforts to develop a National Patient safety policy. WHO is also providing support to Government of Nigeria to develop a national quality policy and strategy that will ensure quality of care provided to patients including pregnant women and their newborn babies.

 In the past 3 years, WHO has been providing technical support to government as part of the WHO-led Quality, Equity and Dignity (QED) network with the aim of halving maternal and newborn mortality by 2030.

So, this World Patient Safety Day, I encourage all stakeholders – governments, civil society, the private sector, health workers and communities – to speak up for patient safety and to act now for safe and respectful childbirth.

It could be recall that World Patient Safety Day is celebrated every year on 17 September, to raise awareness of the importance of people-centred care and preventing harm to patients.

The theme for this year 2021 is “safe maternal and new-born care” with a campaign to “act now for safe and respectful childbirth”.

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