How can we make health clinics safe for pregnant women?

A group in Bauchi State is giving hope to families and communities.

‘Action’ - that’s about the only word that continues to urge the Bauchi State MamaYe Super Activists, a community group of youths and old timers who inspire others in their community.

Not too long ago, after MamaYe’s Super Activists’ campaign on blood donation to save the lives of pregnant women and newborns, some people were inspired and agreed to donate blood.

When all was said and done, even though such donations would have increased the units of blood needed, the people went away with the blood they wanted to donate still in their veins, because the facility didn’t have the capacity to preserve the units of blood that would be collected.

Soon after, a student on training at the hospital liaised with her husband and procured a generator to power the blood bank so that blood may be stored.

In October 2016, emboldened by a fresh confidence, the group organised an awareness drive on the “Importance of Blood Donation” at Azare General Hospital, Katagum Local Government Area, Bauchi State. They were able to talk to 28 people. Out of 28, just 8 promised to donate blood immediately after the campaign. Phew, what a hard task catalysing people to take action!

But the group did not give up. In November 2016, they organised another blood drive. This time, they combined family planning discussions with blood donation. They got commitments from their listeners.

Towards the end of November 2016, the group took its campaign forward to another health facility, Urban Maternity, Azare. It focused on the “Importance of Attending Antenatal Care, Hospital Delivery, Adequate Nutrition and Weaning Diet”. They were able to educate 125 women, a significant and inspiring turnout compared to their previous outings.

Still in November 2016, the group continued to break and gain grounds. It visited the Local Government Area caretaker, Alhaji Daji Wakili, who helped bring community leaders, religious leaders and the community’s youths together. This was when they added the importance of facility delivery of pregnancy women to their numerous campaign topics.

The outcome of the campaign was more practical. 17 people, who promised to donate blood soon, or whenever needed, gave their phone numbers and addresses, ready for the cause whenever the need arose.

Now, here’s the most interesting part of their story, the part that elevated the efforts of the group to the status of a powerful community advocacy group.

During their first visit to Urban Maternity Centre in Azare, the group got a complaint on the absence of a laboratory in the facility. There were equipment meant for the lab, but the equipment was kept in the store and not used.The Officer-in-charge of the maternity centre, Rabiatu Muhammad Sab­o, told me that they were sending pregnant women who needed tests to the general hospital, even though delay in receiving adequate care is one of the reasons why a pregnant woman may not survive.

The secretary of the MamaYe Super Activists, Ahmad Sanni, said:

 We decided to meet the Director, Medical Lab Service, Malam Isah Kubdiya. We also visited the Galidiman Katagum Hakimin Zaki (the traditional ruler), Alhaji Usman Mahmood, to weigh in on the situation.

The maternity centre now got a room turned into a lab with a microscope to conduct tests. They no longer have to send women in labour or new mothers to other places. They no longer have to add to the delay in accessing care. 

Rabiatu, who was inspired by the success of the Super Activists, donated a 700VA generator to support the laboratory, as, according to her, waiting on the government to provide one would take a while.

Ahmad told me that they have got the commitment of the traditional ruler to help secure a solar system in order to provide it to the general hospital to avoid blood wastage that might stem from inadequate electricity supply.This is what MamaYe does, catalysing citizens to take actions that will save the lives of pregnant women and newborns and bring down the rates of maternal and newborn mortality in Nigeria. We raise Super Activists, they take action, they encourage and inspire others.

Everybody plays a role, and this is how we can make health clinics safe for pregnant women and newborns.

Share this article