Women in Nigeria face significant socio-cultural inequities resulting in poor health indices especially during pregnancy and after child birth because of society’s defined gender roles that may not consider the changed status of a pregnant woman. Current research is focused on clinical, institutional/policy level deficiencies with little community involvement and not much is said about culture, beliefs and practices that may negatively impact on maternal health. Under the current Primary Health Care model, community involvement is represented by a Community Health Committee (CHC) made of a chief, police officer, health professional and a school principal. This committee composition is supposed to aid access to community level data on issues related to maternal health such as; intimate partner violence including rape, girl child education/ educational resources for women and community level resources for female wellbeing, socio-political participation and entrepreneurship. In reality though, community-level data is collected by health workers who may not be part of the CHC and may not be properly trained in community participatory needs/assets assessments. The CHC has become a symbol of token community involvement and data collection is often done to meet funders’ needs, which often may not capture the intricacies involved in the daily lives of women that negatively affect their health before, during and after childbirth. Recommendations include developing a community participatory, women-centered data collection model aimed to inform, educate and promote a better understanding of sociocultural factors that influence maternal morbidity and mortality with the aim of developing culturally appropriate interventions and policies.
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