Professor Advocates Holistic Solutions To Curb Maternal Mortality In Nigeria

Daud Olatunji

A Professor of  Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Professor John Sotunsa, has declared that Nigeria’s maternal mortality crisis requires a comprehensive, indigenous approach to make significant strides towards reduction.

Professor Sotunsa stated this while speaking at Babcock University’s 49th inaugural lecture titled “Beyond Superficial Success: Holistic Approaches to Maternal Mortality.”

Professor Sotunsa, who also serves as the Provost of the Benjamin Carson Snr College of Health & Medical Sciences,  advocated the Ondo State government-driven Abiye Initiative  to stem Nigeria’s maternal mortality. 

He emphasised the effectiveness of the Ondo State government’s Abiye Initiative as a model for nationwide implementation.

He highlighted how the Abiye Initiative successfully addressed critical delays in maternal healthcare. 

This initiative integrated efforts between Primary and Tertiary Health Care Centers and employed trained health rangers to provide timely and appropriate care. 

The result was a dramatic drop in maternal mortality rates from the national average of 545 per 100,000 live births to 100 per 100,000 live births within the first year of implementation.

Addressing the root causes of maternal mortality, Professor Sotunsa identified several key delays that exacerbate the crisis: delays in seeking appropriate care, reaching healthcare facilities, and receiving adequate care and referrals. 

He urged both governmental and private entities to focus on eliminating these delays to transform the maternal health landscape in Nigeria.

“The statistics are clear,” Professor Sotunsa noted. “Delays in seeking help for pregnancy and childbirth, reaching specific facilities, and getting necessary care and referrals are major risk factors.

“ Improving the accessibility, availability, affordability, and quality of primary healthcare centres is critical to improving health outcomes, particularly maternal mortality rates.”

To combat these delays, Professor Sotunsa recommended a multi-faceted strategy that include enhancing social support networks, implementing social insurance schemes, and improving mentorship, communication, and documentation within the healthcare system.

 He emphasised that adequate social support can significantly enhance pregnancy experiences, reduce premature deaths by 26%, and lower the incidence of depression, anxiety, stroke, heart disease, and dementia among women.

“We can keep our women alive if we look inward and maximize our opportunities,” Professor Sotunsa asserted. 

“What we have, know, and do can prevent the majority of maternal deaths in Nigeria if we are available, consistent, ingenious, committed, and sacrificing.”

The lecture stressed  the importance of community-driven, locally adapted solutions in addressing the maternal mortality crisis. 

Professor Sotunsa’s call to action encourages stakeholders at all levels to adopt and expand successful models like the Abiye Initiative to ensure safer pregnancies and childbirths across Nigeria.

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