Surviving motherhood in one of the world’s most dangerous countries

Where you live shouldn’t decide whether you can gain an education, access healthcare or survive motherhood. Unfortunately, more than 800 women around the world die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth every day – and 99% of these deaths are in developing countries, like Nigeria.

FACT: More than 800 women die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth every day – 99% of these deaths are in developing countries.

It’s estimated that Nigeria has the 4th highest rate of maternal mortality in the world – after Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Chad.

Why are so many women in Nigeria dying on their journey to become mothers?

A country faced with instability

Half of all maternal deaths occur in fragile countries, where war, disaster or other humanitarian instabilities disrupt access to healthcare. According to the World Health Organization, a woman’s lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 54 for those living in fragile contexts, compared to 1 in 4,900 in developed countries.

In Nigeria,  Boko Haram – the extremist group operating mainly in northeast Nigeria – has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world as of 2015. Their violent activities have displaced more than 2.2 million people internally, and driven hundreds of thousands into neighbouring countries as refugees.

SEE ALSO: #BringBackOurGirls, 2 years later: A reminder of the barriers to girls’ education

For pregnant women displaced by this conflict, accessing quality healthcare becomes a major challenge. Most maternal deaths are preventable, but without access to trained health professionals, medicine, skilled birth attendants or other crucial health structures, pregnancy and childbirth can put women’s lives at risk.

A country with widespread child marriage

More than 40% of all girls and women in Nigeria are married before the age of 18. In some parts of the country, the average age of marriage for girls is as low as 14 years old, and the average age at which they have their first child is 17.

Child marriage is not only a girls’ rights issue, but a global health issue too. When girls are married as children, they’re often expected to become mothers at a young age. Mentally and physically unprepared for motherhood, girls face a higher risk of serious complications. As a result, complications related to pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading cause of death among adolescent girls around the world.

A country ready for change

While Nigeria may be a country faced with many challenges, it is a country rife with hope and opportunity. With more than half of its population below the age of 18, the nation’s young population is poised to take action against injustices and lead positive change.

Plan International is committed to supporting girls, boys, men and women across Nigeria in transforming their country. After launching full operations in 2014, Plan International staff is on the ground, focused on improving education, economic security, governance and health – including maternal health.

With the support of Canadians like you and Global Affairs Canada, we will be working in some of the most difficult contexts in Nigeria, where more than 80% of the population lives below the poverty line, to empower communities with the education, resources, facilities and expertise to reduce maternal deaths, as well as newborn and child mortality.

Together, we can help save the lives of mothers because motherhood should never be considered a dangerous health risk – no matter where you live in the world.


Support global maternal health

When mothers have access to information, healthcare and opportunities to thrive, their children, families and entire communities benefit too. See the different ways you can support maternal health in developing countries, like Nigeria: