When Women Deliver with No One Present in Nigeria: Who, What, Where and So What?

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Author(s): Fapohunda BM, Orobaton NG

Year: 2013

PLoS ONE 8(7): e69569. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069569

With the current maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 630/100,000 live births, Nigeria ranks among the nations with the highest mortality rates in the world. The use of skilled assistants during delivery has been identified a key predictor in the reduction of mortality rates in the world over. Not only are Nigerian women predominantly using unskilled attendants, one in five births are delivered with No One Present (NOP).

We assessed who, what, where and the so what of this practice using 2008 Nigeria DHS (NDHS) data. The study revealed that the prevalence of NOP is highest in the northern part of Nigeria with 94% of all observed cases. Socio-demographic factors, including, women’s age at birth, birth order, being Muslim, and region of residence, were positively associated with NOP deliveries. Mother’s education, higher wealth quintiles, urban residence, decision-making autonomy, and a supportive environment for women’s social and economic security were inversely associated with NOP deliveries. Women’s autonomy and social standing were critical to choosing to deliver with skilled attendance, which were further amplified by economic prosperity. Women’s’ economic wellbeing is entwined with their feelings of independence and freedom. Programs that seek to improve the autonomy of women and their strategic participation in sound health seeking decisions will, most likely, yield better results with improvements in women’s education, income, jobs, and property ownership.

As a short term measure, the use of conditional cash transfer, proven to work in several countries, including 18 in sub-Saharan Africa, is recommended. Its use has the potential to reduce household budget constraint by lowering cost-related barriers associated with women’s ability to demand and use life-saving services. Given the preponderance of NOP in the Northern region, the study suggests that interventions to eradicate NOP deliveries must initially focus this region as priority.

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