Nigeria is one of the 10 countries in the world that contribute about 60 per cent of the world maternal mortality burden, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report. About 40,000 maternal deaths occurred in Nigeria in 2013 and this figure is second only to India, which recorded 50,000 deaths.

The report entitled ‘Trends in maternal mortality 1990 to 2013’ and released on Monday includes new data which were not captured in the last set of global estimates in 2012, as well as improved methods of estimating births and all female deaths. Its findings showed that Nigeria now has a maternal mortality ratio of 560 per 100,000 livebirths which is an improvement on the 630 per 100,000 in 2010. An estimated 289, 000 women died in 2013 due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, down from 523, 000 in 1990.

While it seems uncertain that Nigeria will meet the Millennium Development Goal 5, 11 countries that had high levels of maternal mortality in 1990 (Bhutan, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Nepal, Romania, Rwanda, Timor-Leste) have already reached the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of a 75 per cent reduction in maternal mortality from the 1990 rate by 2015.

Another study by WHO published in “The Lancet Global Health” confirms that most of the deaths are preventable. The report disclosed that more than 1 in 4 (28%) maternal deaths are caused by pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV, malaria and obesity, which are usually worsened by pregnancy.

“More than 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 years give birth every year – 1 in 5 girls before they turn 18 – and many of these pregnancies result from non-consensual sex,” highlights Ms Kate Gilmore, deputy executive director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

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