That name might mean nothing to you, but it should. Yesterday she died, after successfully delivering a daughter, her third after a difficult pregnancy. But Modupe Oyekunle wasn’t just a poor housewife from Ilesha or fleeing Boko Haram bride from Maiduguri. She was well known Yorrywood actress who travelled to Abeokuta to give birth. She wasn’t poor, she had access to some of the better healthcare facilities our ill-equipped nation has to offer. As far women with privilege go she was right up there with the best of them, the last thing that should have happened to her is complications from childbirth.
Nigeria has the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Think of the sheer scale of that. We have 814 deaths per 100.000 live births, that means at least 1 in every 110 women in Nigeria dies during pregnancy every year. In contrast Sweden has 4 deaths for every 100,000 live births. Even if for a second we can forget the thousands of women who die during childbirth, here are some other numbers. The quality of life for children under the age of five drops by 30% if their mothers die during childbirth. The success rate of newborns whose mothers die in childbirth drops by half. Which means for every two women who die in childbirth, a child will die as well.
These numbers become even scarier when you consider that poor women and single mothers have even less access to vital antenatal healthcare, that prevents prenatal deaths. 70% of Nigeria’s women live below the poverty line. 70% of Nigeria’s women see increased risk of death once they get pregnant.
Maternal mortality is preventable. It is so preventable that Sweden’s incredibly low maternal mortality rate was achieved in less than fifty years.
Modupe Oyekunle shouldn’t be dead, her three children shouldn’t be without a mother. Our healthcare facilities needs to actually support the people who need it the most, women and children.
We shouldn’t be talking about maternal mortality in 2017, yet here we are.