Jigawa state has topped the list of teenage mothers with 78 per cent of its girls between ages 15-19 in early marriage even as Nigeria accounts for about 13 per cent of the global maternal death rates with an estimated 36,000 women dying in pregnancy or at child birth each year with not less than 5,500 of these deathsoccuring among teenage mothers.
However, Jigawa is closely followed by Katsina, Zamfara, Bauchi and Sokoto states.
These figures were revealed in the Demographic Health Survey 2013 which also noted that 70 per cent of the maternal deaths in Nigeria are due to four conditions: haemorrhage, eclampsia, sepsis and abortion complications.
It disclosed that only 9.8 per cent of Nigerian women use modern family planning methods while 16.1 per cent have an expressed unmet need for family planning.
“51 per cent of pregnant women had at least four antenatal care visits, only 38 per cent of the annual 6.6 million births in Nigeria were assisted by a skilled attendant,” it noted.
Data made available by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) however noted that over the last 20 years, Nigeria has made significant progress in reducing the maternal mortality ratio. It however added that Nigeria had to make concerted efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goal of 300 per 100,000 (or under 20,000 annual deaths) by 2015.
Nigeria also has about 260,000 neonatal deaths annually, 13 per cent of which can be prevented with live saving interventions such as provision of required maternal health medicines and supplies.
On child marriage, it was revealed that Nigeria had one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world.
The UNFPA noted that urgent action was needed to take solutions to scale and prevent the thousands of girls in Nigeria today from being married in the next decade.
The organisation noted that 4.6 million of the young girls born between 2005 and 2010 risked being married before age 18 by the year 2030 if the trend of early marriage was not arrested.
“Ending child marriage requires strategies for girls’ empowerment, social and cultural norms change, legal reform and policy action. Proven solutions involve girls schooling (especially lower secondary) and programmes that offer life skills, literacy, health information and services that offer life skills, literacy, health information and services, and social support,” the UNFPA said.
It added that married girls especially need access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning and maternal health services.