Nigerian Mothers

Think of 18 women you know who have kids. If you have a second, write down the 18 names, make a list.

And  then, when you’re done, cross out one name. That woman represents the 1 of 18 moms you know who wouldnt live through childbirth (or  for more than six weeks after it) if you all lived in Nigeria.

That’s a pretty sobering statistic, isn’t it? If you’re pregnant and live in Nigeria,  according to a UN/World Bank report, there’s a 1 in 18 chance you may not live to raise that baby, your other kids, nor do anything you wanted to do in life.  I know, according to  journalism studies, people are bored with stats and they don’t make an impact so we writers aren’t supposed to use them to make a point.

But 1 in 18?!  In the year 2010?!  Put another way- Nigeria has 2% of the world people but 10% of the world’s maternal mortalities. Maternal mortality is a huge and horrific problem in that country.

Why is this happening? Reasons for this high numberaccording to the report and agencies studying the issue, include:  lack of access to midwives and doctors, lack of pre-natal care, the norm of females being married and getting pregnant when theyre still teenagers and more vulnerable to complications, lack of access to education and contraception – so women in danger of a difficult birth still get pregnant.

According to seveal sources including , The White Ribbon Alliance,  Nigeria’s government at all levels haven’t effectively dealt with the issue, adding to its prevelance.

Here’s a short summary of some of the issues.  (Note: I don’t know who runs this website; but it quoted a lot of UN stats I saw elsewhere in a concise fashion, so, there it is. )

And here is a short article on the subject written on a Nigerian newspaper’s website  by a Nigerian journalist.

It seems this is clearly a problem, at heart, of poverty, a poverty that attacks women specifically. (Maternal mortality is a big topic in Half The Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn – a book about empowering women to improve humanity…if you want a copy let me know, I’ll send you one..)

Another issue facing Nigerian moms is fistula, a rupture in the birth canal that happens when there are complications during delivery (often because they couldn’t get to a doctor soon enough or at all). Fistulas leave women leaking their own waste- which in turn gets them ostracized from their communities and divorced. They become (further) impoverished and physically and mentally/emotionally (I’d assume!) unhealthy.

Here’s an excellent summary of the situation in Nigeria.  “Dead Women Walking” they call it.  Estimates put the number of Nigerian women with this condition at 1 million.

You can also listen to this podcast from Doctors Without Borders.  (Cue it up to 5:50 … ) .  And there’s a  video here.

The thing that gets me most  is how this destructive  condition damaging these one million women  is preventable and treatable! Think of all these women could be doing if they had the care they needed!

Of course, the point of learning about all this isn’t so I can say how awful it all is and then not do anything, so here comes the list of links:

White Ribbon Alliance: Mother’s Day Everyday Campaign

www.msf.org  Doctors Without Borders

Fistula Care  (Nigeria page)

Some places mentioned in Half The Sky:

Averting Maternal Death And Disability/Columbia University

Fistula Foundation

“Drop as you see fit.”

And now here it, folks, your moment of twin

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