Monday, 1 March 2010
A Plague of Numbers:Saving Women and Children
The world is in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of human numbers, Nigeria ranks 8th ahead of any other African country on the top 10 list of the most populated countries of the world. With an estimated population of 149,229,090 million people (Year,2009), the evolution of growth can be uninhibited. Nigeria is projected to have about 264,262,405 million people by the year 2050 (United States Census Bureau) living within the artery of its landscape. It is a plague of numbers (overpopulation) as women within the reproductive age group encounter a conflict of fertility, giving birth to more children than they can effectively nurture for while trying to increase their chance of survival from maternal mortality.
Postulations in the 17th century by Thomas Malthus on population, predicts the possibility of significant increase in the world population in a geometric progression of 1,2,4,8 pattern while the means of subsistence (food) follows thus in an arithmetic progression of 1, 2, 3, 4 pattern, which inevitably can cause scarcity of economical resources and increased malnutrition among women and children. Population growth among the reproductive populace in Nigeria, may require complex and compelling choices, to avoid public health challenges which is an easy pry on women and children through inadequate water supply; emergence of new epidemics, deadly disease(s), starvation, malnutrition or poor diet with ill health, diet-deficiency as well as maternal and infant mortality. At the moment 6 women die every hour from complications resulting from child birth, Nigeria rank 2nd on highest maternal mortality tabulation.
Furthermore, a couple of significant factors continues to determine the state of a healthy populace such as birth rate, death rate, urbanisation and methods of population control especially through family planning and population policies. The world is aging in an unprecedented way! ''Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race." (UNICEF). Existing contraceptive methods could go far toward alleviating the unmet need if they were available and used in sufficient numbers, through a variety of channels and distribution, sensitively adapted to local needs.
A mismatch between the Nigerian reproductive (women) populace and adequate health system services can increase mortality rate in the process of giving life. The timing and spacing of pregnancies are important for the health of the mother, her children, and her family. Most maternal deaths are due to unsafe practices in terminating pregnancies, a lack of readily available services for high-risk pregnancies, and women having too many children or having them too early and too late in life.
Thus all reproductive health services must be implemented as a part of a broader strategies to raise the quality of human life and sustenance. They must include the following:
• Effort to reduce and eliminate gender-based inequalities. Women and men should have equal opportunities and responsibilities in sexual, social, and economic life.
• Provision of convenient family planning and other reproductive health services with a wide variety of safe contraceptive options. Irrespective of an individual's ability to pay.
• Encouragement of voluntary approaches to family planning, elimination of unsafe and coercive practices.
• Develop policies that address basic needs such as clean water, sanitation, broad primary health care measures and education; and that foster empowerment of the poor and women.
It therefore eminent that we need to ensure adequate processes are adopted in curbing a plague of numbers in saving the lives of mother and child health care.
Femi Adeolu Amele