Having lost several pregnant women to death during childbirth, Gwauro community in Igabi local government of Kaduna state has embarked on construction of a maternity hospital, in order to reduce the high maternal and child mortalities which are scaring teenage girls from marriage. For this reason, Gwauro community is seeking the support of Kaduna state government and philanthropists to complete the project and repair the only road that links them civilization, as ABDULRAHEEM AODU highlights in this report.
A sick community
Gwauro is a community of sleepy villages in Igabi local government area of Kaduna state, which have a population of about 5, 000 people, who are mainly farmers and petty traders.
The community, owing to lack of medical facilities, has been bedeviled with high infant and maternal rates for a long time. As usual for most rural communities, residents to have trek for several kilometers in order to seek medical attention in the neighbouring town, which is located some 25km to 30km away.
Most women have either died on the road while seeking medical help or have gone through forced labour on the bumpy and rough path that can hardly be called a road.
Elusive public servants
During campaign periods, politicians and those who are aspiring for public office, always promise to provide a medical facility when elected.
However, they seem to completely forget about Gwauro when they assume office until after three years, when elections are round the corner. According to reports, the people have tried unsuccessfully to get across to Honorable Muhammad Abubakar Mamadi and Senator Shehu Sani, their representatives at the National Assembly.
Similarly, they are unable to meet Alhaji Yusuf Zailani, their legislator at Kaduna House of Assembly to lodge their complaints.
In the last two years, Kaduna state has not had elected local government chairmen but even the Chairmen of Interim Management Councils have not brought succor to the people of Gwauro.
Gwauro turns to self help
After several appeals for government’s intervention and countless failed promises, Gwauro community took its destiny in its hand by building a seven room hospital in order to reverse the high rate of fatalities. The project which was started with funds contributed by members of the community, has reached the top level and now requires roofing.
The combined effects of the recession and high cost of building materials have halted the project. The residents’ joy that their wives, children and pregnant women will no longer die along the road before reaching hospital in the city for delivery, has become stillborn.
Having reached their wits’ end, Gwauro community is now appealing to governments and philanthropists to come to their aid.
Women dread marriage, pregnancy
According to a traditional title holder in the village, Malam Umaru Galadima, the community lacks motorable road or any other social amenities, adding that whenever pregnant women want to deliver in the villages, it becomes a burden to the community, simply because there is no hospital or any health facility in the area. He said that high death rate is causing a lot of fear and anxiety among girls who have reached puberty, as they dread the day they would get married and eventually be pregnant.
A pregnant woman in the community, Malama Rakiya Ahmed, said she is always afraid of being pregnant due to lack of hospital or healthcare centre in their community. According to her, the means of transportation to nearby town that is readily available remains a challenge for women, not to talk of pregnant women.
She pointed out that it’s a daunting task for a pregnant women to ride on motorcycle or climb a truck or tipper to go to the hospital. “I’m always afraid of being pregnant due to lack of hospital or healthcare centre in our community. The available means of transportation to nearby town are not convenient for women because it is a big challenge for women not to talk of pregnant women to be climbing motorcycle or climbing truck or sand tipper to go to the hospital,’’ she explained to Blueprint Weekend.
Traditional midwives to the rescue
Following the challenges of lacking healthcare centre and rough road that leads to the nearest hospital, the use of traditional midwives and birth attendants has become an alternative.
Malam Galadima said, “we lost so many pregnant women and children as a result of the distance between our villages to the nearest hospital in a nearby town, a distance of 25km to 30km. That was why we contributed money to start building the maternity hospital project.’’ Now that the project has stopped due to lack of funds, the community leaders in the area are appealing to government and wealthy individuals to help them in completing the roofing of the hospital and make usable for safe delivery.
Doctor highlights risks
Dr Musiliu Odunola, a medical doctor, warned on the dangers of delivery at home as it is the major cause of high maternal mortality, especially in northern part of the country.
According to him, ‘’one of the challenges of delivering at home is that the women who do that don’t attend ante natal, which does not help them know if there are challenges inherent in the woman and the child such as hypertension, developing bleeding after delivery, wrong positioning of the baby.’’
Dr Oduntola mentioned other birth challenges such as laceration around the vagina or laceration of the uterus itself, which can lead to death. He pointed out that ‘’the uterus may relax and not contract, so the woman can bleed to death.
Also placenta can refuse to come out after delivery, if placenta does not come out within 30 minutes to one hour, it can lead to blood reducing and blood loss.’’ The medical doctor also said that women who deliver at home can convulse during delivery which is difficult to control.
‘’The woman can also develop infection because the people use their bare hands or objects that may be contaminated to severe the umbilical cord.
So, there is risk of infection to the babe itself, to the brain and development of the child,’’ he added. Oduntola also mentioned the risk of transmission of viruses, HIV, hepatitis. ‘’Even when congenital problems develop in the children, they may not discover until problem erupts,’’ he further said.
Seeking El-Rufai’s helping hand
A member of the maternity and hospital project committee, Malam Saidu Shehu Rohugi, said they have done their best in taking the structure to level, adding that at the stage which the project is, they would need external support from government or philanthropists to complete the project and save their people from death. ‘’That is why we are begging Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state to come to our rescue and save our women and children from dying, while being rushed to the hospital in town.’’
Before help comes, the people will still make do with traditional birth attendants, the long and bumpy road to a health facility as well as the attendant high infant and maternal mortalities.