Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Maternal mortality and morbidity and the youth

“My neighbor’s wife gave birth to a healthy baby but by the time the medical personnel knew that there was another baby still in her womb, she was already weak. The hospital did not have the equipment to operate on her as the baby was breeched. When they took her to another hospital that had the equipment, there was no power supply to carry out the operation. When she was taken to a government hospital, she died because the hospital initially refused o admit her because she had not registered there early in her pregnancy.”

“I once had a friend who died. Initially we joked with her saying she was going fat. But after we were told she was dead, we later learnt that she was pregnant and went to the chemist to get some drugs. It was these drugs that she took that made her die.”

These are some of the observations made by some of the youth delegates at the youth sexuality Institute of the 3rd African Conference on Sexual Health and Rights. The fact that a selection of youths around Africa were admitted ever knowing pregnant woman who had complications of pregnancy and had adverse effect at childbirth is a pointer that the state of maternal, newborn and child health in Africa and Nigeria in particular leaves more to be desired.

The vibrant discussion was moderated by Dr Lucy Idoko of the UNFPA Abuja office at the second session of the Youth Sexual Institute of the Conference yesterday in a presentation titled ‘Maternal mortality and morbidity and the youth’. In order to mitigate the high rate of maternal mortality and morbidity, youths should have a firm grasp of the causes of maternal mortality. The discussion went ahead to highlight obstructed labour, early age of pregnancy, multi-parity and unsafe abortion as some of the causes of maternal mortality and morbidity.

The case of unsafe abortion was dealt upon with emphasis being played on the fact that abortion is said to be safe when it is being carried out by a medical personnel using the correct equipment and procedures and in a sanitary location, any other form of termination of a pregnancy is an unsafe abortion and should not be encouraged by any young person. Some myths about abortions were discussed and dispelled and the youths told that there must be effective counseling for every youth to make an informed decision as pertaining to conception and seeking abortions.

The responsibilities of youth boys and girls were listed as: arming themselves with correct information on available facilities for management of pregnancy and its complications, being able to exercise the sexual and reproductive rights to remove barriers which may be cultural, social and religious, educating their peers and community members on the need for appropriate care.

The youth sexuality Institute of the 3rd Africa conference on sexual health and rights kicked off yesterday with the following sessions: Defining the key terms and concept: sex, sexuality, gender, sexual health and rights; Status of youth sexual health and rights in Africa 1: what are the issues of concern and Status of youth Health and Rights in Africa 11: Progress made and further actions required.

By Nnenna Ike

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