Expert Urges Immediate Action To Enhance Reproductive Healthcare In Nigeria

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A midwife listening for the heartbeat of a pregnant woman’s baby.

The regional director of Options Consultancy Services, Dr. Ufuoma Omo Obi has stressed the need for prompt and united efforts to tackle the considerable hurdles in Nigeria’s reproductive healthcare sector.

In an interview with journalists in Abuja, Omo Obi responded to the recent findings of the 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey/National Immunisation Coverage Survey (MICS/NICS) by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

He emphasised that Nigeria is facing challenges in achieving universal access to reproductive healthcare by 2030.

“The disparities in reproductive health services between urban and rural areas, as highlighted in the report, underscore the necessity for specific policies, increased funding, and comprehensive education and health services,” he remarked.

Omo Obi emphasised that overcoming these obstacles demands a joint commitment from all stakeholders.

“Through tailored policies, enhanced funding, and comprehensive education and health services, Nigeria can take substantial steps towards attaining universal reproductive healthcare by 2030.

“We need policies tailored to address the distinct needs of urban and rural populations. Boosting healthcare infrastructure funding and health personnel training is vital,” he remarked.

He stressed the significance of education in advancing reproductive health outcomes.

“Extensive educational programmes on family planning and reproductive health can empower individuals to make informed choices.

“We must ensure that contraceptive methods are easily accessible to all women,” he added.

He called for immediate action to decrease maternal and child mortality rates. “Strengthening antenatal and delivery care services, particularly in rural areas, is crucial.

“We also need to tackle the socio-economic obstacles preventing women from accessing these services,” he underlined.

The importance of community engagement was also highlighted.

“Involving local communities in health schemes and advocating culturally sensitive approaches to reproductive health can enhance service acceptance and usage,” he elaborated.

The report underscored various aspects of reproductive health, revealing significant gaps between urban and rural regions.

The total fertility rate (TFR) remains high at 4.6 children per woman, with urban women having an average of 3.6 children compared to 5.4 children for rural women.

Adolescent fertility rates are alarming, with 75 live births per 1,000 adolescent females, markedly higher in rural areas (108 per 1,000) compared to urban areas (32 per 1,000).

Antenatal care coverage is another crucial area, with only 69.6 per cent of pregnant women receiving care at least once from skilled health personnel. The rates vary significantly across regions, with Imo state achieving 96.8 per cent and Sokoto only 30.5 per cent.

Moreover, only 49 per cent of deliveries take place in healthcare facilities, highlighting the disparity in delivery care, especially in rural areas where the rate is merely 34.5 per cent, compared to 74.3 per cent in urban regions.

Contraceptive usage among married women remains low at 18.2 per cent for modern methods, with urban areas displaying a higher usage rate of 27 per cent compared to 12.2 per cent in rural areas. This low adoption underscores obstacles to family planning services and education.

Maternal mortality levels are critically high, with 512 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, surpassing the SDG target of under 70 per 100,000. The under-5 mortality rate stands at 102 per 1,000 live births, with significant regional disparities.

Racheal Abujah
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