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#MaternalMonday: 6 Tips on how to promote Maternal Health in Conflict Areas

Conflict often has varying impacts on a society and its members. This may often lead to loss of life, injuries, displacement, malnutrition as well as other health complications. In Nigeria alone, there are over 2.1 million people who have been displaced due to ongoing conflict and crises. An estimated one-third of maternal deaths occurring worldwide happen in conflict settings. However, reducing maternal mortality and morbidity is the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

1. Empowering women Women & children suffer unspeakable forms of violence due to conflict and the lower social status of women and girls often translates into less education, which means they often don’t know where to access maternal healthcare or seek remedies when they are denied care or their rights are otherwise violated, hence the need for women to be educated on how to administer first aide in emergencies. It is also essential that men are educated about women’s fundamental human rights, including their rights to access health services.

2. Provision of Medical Kits Women in conflict areas are less likely to visit health facilities for various reasons including lack of access which points out the need to provide refugee camps with the resources needed to transform any incidental delivery location into a clean, safe, and fully equipped health facility. Safe delivery kits contain all the necessary health commodities to deliver a baby, such as misoprostol [a medication used to start labour]. We also have to increase access to antenatal care for pregnant women in refugee camps by also providing safe delivery kits which are a low-cost way to ensure mother & newborn are safe in any delivery location like the Safe delivery kits like the #MamaKits that contain necessary materials to deliver a baby must be provided in such areas.

3. Access to contraception and safe abortions As crisis and conflict settings often have higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity stemming from unsafe abortions, there is a need to ensure that all women have access to a range of contraceptive options so they can prevent unwanted pregnancies and have access to safe abortion services. In this regard, it is critical that NGOs acquire access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and make them available to women in IDP Camps.

4. Get men involved Antenatal care sessions give men the opportunity to be involved in the education that is about the care of the newborn, contraception and limiting family size. Working with IDP Camp heads by engaging them in programmes so they can see the benefit of good maternal health for the camps is very crucial.

5. Use of Health Records Personal health records can empower women to track their health and the health of their child, and can act as an early warning signal during pregnancy, enabling midwives to provide timely care.

6. Tackling child marriage Adolescent girls are often exposed to increased rates of child marriage in crisis settings as it’s often seen as a way to protect them in the face of extreme instability. It is essential that the issue of child marriage is addressed especially in IDP Camps to reduce the maternal mortality rate for adolescents, and guarantee their human rights.

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