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Background: Nigeria has one of the highest Maternal Mortality (MM) ratios and political commitment is weak. The perceptions of Local Government Legislators (LGLs) who have important roles to play in formulating policies and enacting laws for reducing MM have not been adequately explored.
Aim and Objectives: This study was designed to determine the perceptions of LGLs in Ibadan relating to MM and strategies for its reduction.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in the 11 Local Government Areas (LGAs) that constitute Ibadan among 110 consenting legislators out of 113 and purposively selected ten Chairmen of House Committees on Health using pretested semi-structured questionnaire and indepth interview guide. Descriptive statistics and Chi-square were used to analyze the quantitative data and the qualitative data were subjected to thematic analysis.
Results: Mean age of respondents was 36.5 ± 7.2 years, 39.1% were not aware that MM is high in Nigeria and 91.8% were not aware of any existing policies for reducing MM. Perceptions included abortion not to be legalized in spite of its association with MM (78.2%), maternal health projects not to be financed from constituency allowance (60.9%) and making ANC compulsory would not reduce MM (54.5%). Proffered strategies for reducing MM included training for political leaders (100%), evidence to show political leaders that MM is a public health problem (87.3%) and involvement of traditional leaders. In-depth interviews revealed that HIV/AIDS, Immunization, Tuberculosis and Leprosy control were the top priority health programmes in the LGAs and unsafe abortion was identified as the main cause of MM in their constituencies
Conclusions: Negative perceptions of maternal mortality existed among the legislators. Advocacy and the integration of suggestions into control efforts have potential for ameliorating the problem.
Maternal mortality, legislators, perceptions, reduction strategies