Nigeria has the largest number of maternal deaths globally, accounting for nearly 20% of all maternal deaths. In 2015 alone, 58,000 Nigerian women died from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, devastating families and communities and resulting in an estimated $1.5 billion in lost productivity.
Since 2015, for Mothers has taken a comprehensive approach to tackle the large burden of maternal deaths in Nigeria by ensuring women have access to two of the most powerful ways to prevent these tragedies: quality maternity care and modern contraception. We work across both public and private sectors so that all women can receive quality maternity care wherever and whenever they seek care.
Yet, we cannot do this important work alone. We believe that strong, multisector collaborations can help achieve the Nigeria’s maternal health goals.
Too many maternal deaths are taking place outside of health facilities and remain unreported in Nigeria. We are supporting the “Giving Birth in Nigeria” advocacy project which empowers communities to report maternal deaths across six states using storytelling and social media. The project aims to enhance the public’s understanding of why women are dying, and step up accountability at the national, facility and community levels to track maternal deaths and take action to prevent them in the future.
Nigeria has a mixed health system, with approximately 60% of the population accessing private health care. Throughout Cross River State, we supported efforts to improve access to quality, comprehensive maternity care and strengthen linkages between more than 100 local public and private facilities. Working closely with communities, providers and local health decisionmakers, this project has contributed to a 28% reduction in maternal mortality in two years. With public and private providers working in tandem, more than 90% of women in the state now have access to quality emergency obstetric care within two hours.
Although family planning is one of the most effective ways to reduce maternal mortality, only 10% of married women in Nigeria are using modern contraception, one of the lowest modern contraceptive prevalence rates in the world. To address this, we are supporting work to integrate post-pregnancy family planning (PPFP) services along the continuum of maternity care – during antenatal, delivery, postnatal and immunization visits – in private facilities in Lagos State. The project also aims to understand the distinctive barriers providers face in delivering PPFP services and is generating and testing new ways to overcome these challenges using a woman-centered design approach.
Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) and pre-eclampsia/ eclampsia (PE/E) continue to be leading causes of maternal death, but indirect causes such as malaria, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity are on the rise. In Nigeria, risk factors for PE/E — diabetes, anemia, and hypertension — are increasing. We are supporting a consortium that is striving to better identify and manage these risk factors throughout pregnancy, reducing the likelihood of poor maternal health outcomes.
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