A Public Health Physician, Dr Chioma Nwakanma, has advised hospital managers to develop a standard operating procedure for managing pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce maternal mortality rate.
Nwakanma, who is also the Executive Director, Smile With Me Foundation (SWMF), gave the advice in Awka on Saturday.
She said that public and private hospital managers should endeavour to communicate such operating procedures to the pregnant women that registered for antenatal care in their facilities.
According to her, COVID-19 pandemic is affecting pregnant women in the country as they are experiencing difficulties in accessing maternity services at the hospitals.
“Public and private hospital services are currently skeletal, still trying to find a way to be fully functional in a moment like this.
“Also, the focus is majorly on COVID-19 patients and those with symptoms.
“This makes me worry for the pregnant women who are vulnerable part of our society.
“According to statistics, about 19, 000 women have died in pregnancy, childbirth or 42 days after childbirth in Nigeria in the past four months.
“ We urgently need to do something to decrease the Nigeria’s already high maternal mortality rate,” she said.
Nwakanma also urged hospital managers to stipulate how appointments could be booked and upheld within COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“Hospitals should also leverage on technology to consult with these women in the comfort of their homes, such that hospital visits are reduced to only emergencies or compulsory clinical examinations.
“On routine drugs and tests, some hospitals are finding ways to make that available to their clients at their doorsteps.
“More hospitals should follow suit or create their own unique ways.
“The bottom line is, our pregnant women should not be neglected this period.
“Maternal mortality is already high as it is, and we might double that number, if we do not have a good structure for pregnancy care,” she said.
Nwakanma also advised pregnant women to connect with their hospital doctors for regular health checks.