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In Kwali, pregnant women survive without health centre

Undoubtedly, childbirth is an important stage in the life of a woman and it has many challenges and consequences. Essentially, the need to ensure safe…

Undoubtedly, childbirth is an important stage in the life of a woman and it has many challenges and consequences. Essentially, the need to ensure safe delivery and good health of the infant and the mother necessitated huge investment by the government in this regard.
The latest of such government’s effort is the Subsidy Reinvestment Program (SURE-P) through which childbirth is made to be free and the mother given what is called as the ‘mama kit’ to use during child birth and afterwards.
Despite these, only handful of women in Daka, a community in Kwali Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) patronise the hospital, especially for delivery.
“I have never given birth in the hospital all my life,” said Zainab Aminu, who has six children.
She said her husband’s other wife assisted her in giving birth to all her children and she, in turn, reciprocates the gesture by helping her with her four children.
Zainab is one of the many women in the community that have been using this means of child bearing in the community.
The community head, Dauda Gonma, said the women chose to give birth in the house because the healthcare centre is located far away from them.
Gonma said: “We go to Kwali for medical treatments, and that is about 20 kilometres from the community. There is no healthcare centre in neighbouring communities. During an emergency situation, we have to use motorcycle and vehicles in conveying patients to the hospital.”
The community head said, “Residents are always ready to help in getting sick people to the hospital, though our women give birth at home not in the hospital but they are usually taken to the hospital when there are hitches which is rare.”
The community head said most of the women, especially the elderly ones, are usually responsible for ensuring safe deliveries.
On how she learnt how to take delivery, Zainab Aminu said: “My mother taught me; she told me the same process delivered me and it has been like that from generation to generation. On rare occasion we go to the hospital, that is when there are complications but it has never happened to me, while delivering or serving as a ‘midwife’ in helping women to deliver.”
Though her mother had passed away, she scored herself high in practising what she was taught, saying that she would teach her children the method of delivering at home in the absence of a primary healthcare centre in the community.
Zainab husband’s other wife, Habiba Aminu, said she has never stepped into a hospital all her life, attributing the success of her deliveries to God and the cooperation of her colleague.
She described their relationship as symbiotic. She said: “Zainab successfully took delivery of my four children. I have not been to a hospital since I have been delivering my children.”
Habiba, who said her parents taught her the knowledge of childbirth, however admitted that the unavailability of a primary healthcare centre forced the residents to keep doing things the crude way.
She said: “Where do you want us to go since there is no hospital around here, if there is one, we wouldn’t be giving birth at home. But I have no regrets with all my babies because my children are all safe and healthy.”  
Some of the residents that witnessed complications while trying to give birth at home are taken to the hospital.
Abdul Haruna recounted his ordeals when his sister in-law was due and attempts to deliver the child failed. He said: “It was in the midnight when my mother woke me up to get a motorcycle to take her to the chemist in the next village. But it was difficult getting her on the motorcycle so I was directed to fetch the chemist in Ijah Pada [neighbouring community]. I went, but the man said his injections have finished.
“We had to put her on the motorcycle and took her to another community, Ijah, where a man said to be well-versed in childbirth took delivery of the baby. She did not deliver in the hospital.”
Haruna said the long distance of the Kwali General Hospital discourages pregnant women from going there even for ante-natal. To go there, he said, the women have to trek for more than four hours, calling on the government to save the residents from the stress of child bearing.  
Rami Ahmed, another resident, said in her over 30 years in the community, she has not heard of any complications arising from child delivery, as all the deliveries, to her knowledge, were safe with the infant and mother in good health.
Nuhu Lydia, who said she has assisted mothers to deliver five children, described the process as easy, saying since most of the women that serve as midwives have also delivered, their experiences help in assisting others.
Lydia pointed out that the numbers of children playing around in the community are testimonies of what the women have been doing, saying none of them was delivered in the hospital.
The women, however, said health officials do visit the community. “The health workers come, at least, once in a month and whenever they come, they give the children something in their mouths and they sometimes also inject them,” said Aminu Zubairu, another resident.
Gonma, the community head, appealed to the authorities of the area council to help the community with primary healthcare centre to stop the practice of giving birth at home.
 He said it is not the wish of the residents to be giving birth at home but they are left with no alternative due to the distance of the hospital to the community.
“I hope, one day, the government would come to our aid,” he said.

Taiwo Adeniyi & Alfred Iwenekha

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