The number of women dying from pregnancy-related complications in Nigeria is akin to a plane crashing every day, but the crisis gets less noticed amid pandemics such as AIDS and malaria, activists say.
At least 144 women die each day in Nigeria during pregnancy or childbirth, according to the UN and World Bank statistics, placing it among some of the worst countries for women to deliver babies in the world, after Sierra Leone and Niger among others.
"Imagine a plane crash in Nigeria everyday, carrying only pregnant women. Would we stand by and do nothing? But this is precisely the case, death through pregnancy and child birth has almost become invisible," Sandra Obiago, director of a local lobby group, Communicating for Change, said Thursday.
Activists on Thursday premiered three short but hard-hitting Nollywood films to push for an urgent change in attitude and provision of adequate healthcare services to avoid pregnancy-related problems.
The films take a provocative look at the deadly crisis in sub-Saharan Africa's second largest economy and the world's eight largest oil exporter, where some 70 percent of the 150 million people live on less than a dollar a day.
Nigeria lacks some of the basic infrastructure such as electricity and good roads, while skilled medical personnel is just not enough for Africa's most populous country.
Aside attacking dilapidated facilities, the films also hit out at cultural and religious traditions that endanger the lives of pregnant women.
In one of the films, a man whose wife has a complicated labour, wastes time insisting that no male doctor will attend to her. By the time he is convinced there is no female doctor around and agrees to emergency caesarian section by a man, there is power outage the moment she is taken to theatre, and the hospital generator is out of order.
"It's a failure of governance, we must make our leaders accountable to make sure they provide the infrastructure," said a civil and human rights activist Yemisi Ransome-Kuti.
Nigerians have become permissive of corrupt leadership.
"Until we begin to look at reforms in the electoral systems so that we get correct leaders ... we will be in this Catch 22 situation forever," she told AFP.
Nollywood director Teco Benson said Nigeria's famous film industry provided the most effective tool in the fight for change especially in cultural and religious beliefs that have helped worsen the crisis.
"We are trying to get people to see things in different ways and to act," said Adhiambo Odaga of the Ford Foundation in West Africa.