Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Maternal Health Challenges and Prospects for National Development: A Case-Study of Badagry Local Government, Lagos State

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Maternal Health Challenges and Prospects for National Development: A Case-Study of Badagry Local Government, Lagos State

Article excerpt


This study seeks to explore maternal health as a critical aspect of national development. It has long been recognized that the health status of pregnant women is an important indicator of the general state of health of any population. The health of pregnant women also influences the health of their babies. Hence, fetal and infant health is one of the main determinants of health in childhood and adulthood. Countries are ranked by various health and economic indicators to show how they fare compared to others. The decrease in life expectancy is in large part reflective of the increased maternal and infant mortality. The continuous increase in maternal mortality in Nigeria has stimulated a re-examination of the issue in order to identify subtle, yet profound variables that may be responsible for this perennial problem, in order to attain development in health. To this end, the overall aim of the study was to investigate challenges to maternal health during pregnancy as a barrier to national development. Data was generated by questionnaire and in-depth interview and analysis were made by simple percentage and content analysis respectively. The findings were discussed within the Health Belief Model and concluded by highlighting the importance of socio-economic factors in the reduction of maternal mortality in the study area. The study however, revealed that some socioeconomic variables are detrimental to the health of women and their safety during pregnancy. The consequences of these are described in the paper and recommendations made.

Key Words: maternal health, national development, socio-economic variables, pregnant women.


Maternal mortality is a critical indicator of maternal health and well-being in any country (HERFON, 2006:104). This study focuses on Nigeria wherein maternal mortality is second only to that of India, thereby corroborating facts from available statistics that Nigeria has one of the worst indicators relating to maternal health in the developing world (Krautz, 2008).

However in 2000, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a framework for comprehensive and inclusive development. Hence, the task of strengthening the health sector and improving health indicators are among the most important development issues facing Nigeria. In this regard, for Africa and the world at large, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in maternal health cannot be reached without significant improvements in the health status of Nigeria's women (USAID, 2008:3).

However, official statistics reveal that Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of 129 million as at mid 2002. This figure accounts for one out of every five Africans and about 45 percent of the population of West African region. Nigeria occupies an area of 923,768km2 which is about 3 percent of the African continental territorial space. Also, it is pertinent to know that, Nigeria is a multicultural country with over 300 ethnic groups, each with its cultural and traditional peculiarities and diversity (Madunagu and Olairan, 2005). There has been an upsurge of religious fundamentalism in recent times particularly as a result of the opium impact it has on the population which is one of the critical demographic characteristics of this country. This characteristic is important as it also affects the health-seeking behaviour of the respondents as this study intends to show.

Furthermore, it is estimated that about 40 percent of Nigerian population now reside in the urban areas thereby increasing the urban population at an annual rate of 4.8 percent. This pressure on urban areas resulting from rural-urban migration creates the increasing production of solid waste, sewage and air pollution. Thus this limits supplies of clean water, electricity, and housing thereby contributing to negative health consequences from which pregnant women are major victims. …

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