Population commission projects increase in maternal mortality due to COVID-19 restrictions

The National Population Commission (NPC) on Saturday, predicted an increase in maternal deaths due to restrictions occasioned by the Coronavirus(COVID-19) pandemic.

It said the situation may have worsened the already high maternal mortality rate of 556 deaths per 100,000 live births.

The Commission’s Acting Chairman, Dr Eyitayo Oyetunji made the assertion in Abuja, at a briefing to mark the 2020 World Population Day, themed: Putting the brakes on COVID-19: “How to safeguard the Health and Rights of Women and Girls now.”

According to him, the compounded economic impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown were mostly felt by women especially in terms of access to good nutrition and health care facilities.

He said: “Nutrition is among the causes of anaemia, and anaemia is a major concern among women, leading to increased maternal mortality and poor birth outcomes as well as reductions in work productivity.

“COVID-19 did not make it easy for women to access and utilize reproductive health facilities especially as the logistics of getting to health facilities were negatively impacted.”

Also, he said there has been an increase in gender-based violence ranging from rape, physical and emotional assault.

He added that school closures have further contributed to the negative impact, stressing that more girls are likely to drop out of school.

Other consequences, he said could include: “early marriage, high fertility, morbidity and maternal mortality, abortion, VVF, low self-esteem at attending to personal healthcare.”

To this end, he said the commission would intensify its efforts at generating demographic, health and social-economic data for championing the course of all, especially women and girls.

“We recognize that data collection and disaggregation are at the centre of most projects aimed at addressing issues concerning women and girls.

“The NPC has continued to collaborate with UNFPA and other development partners, NGOs and MDAs to generate data meant to address cases of women’s health, nutrition, educational attainment, sexual harassment through surveys and research endeavours,” he added.

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