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Widowers’ accounts of maternal mortality among women of low socioeconomic status in Nigeria

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The research is based on information collected on 50 deceased Nigerian women of low socioeconomic status in different locations of the country including Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna, Zaria, Minna, Enugu, and Port-Harcourt among others. They had some common characteristics such as low levels of education, involvement in petty trading and were clients of a microfinance bank as small loan receivers. Primary data were generated mainly through verbal autopsy with widowers employing In-depth Interviews and Key Informant Interviews. In addition, unobtrusive observation was carried out in these locations to ascertain in some instances the distance between the deceased homes and health facilities patronised by the women. Secondary data were specific to death certificates of the deceased supplied by the widowers. Both ethnographic summaries and content analysis were employed in data analysis to account for contextual differences, especially in a multicultural society like Nigeria. The findings implicated several issues that are taken for granted at the micro-family and macro-society levels. It specifically revealed that small loans alone are not sufficient to empower poor women to make meaningful contributions to their own reproductive health in a patriarchal society like Nigeria. Results also indicated that cultural differences as well as rural-urban dichotomy were not proximate determinants of maternal behaviour; the latter rather finds expression in low socioeconomic status. Consequently, policy relevant recommendations that could contribute to significant maternal mortality reduction were proffered. (Afr J Reprod Health 2012; 16[3]: 101-117)


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