TOYIN ADEBAYO, Abuja
Over 600 women of childbearing age in Shishipe commuity of Bwari Area Council Federal Capital Territory, FCT are at the mercy of one “Dr. Musa Muhammed” who run a medicine store in that community.
Dr. Muhammed as he is popularly called administers antenatal care to pregnant women and even take delivery of babies at the rate of between 1000 to 3500 naira per birth.
Dr. Mohammed told our correspondent that there was no emergency case he cannot handle as he has acquired expertise in Solki Hospital and Luguard Clinic Mpape. According to him, he treats malaria, cholera and other related cases in the community. “I deliver pregnant women of their babies and pregnant women also access antenatal care in my store”. He boasted.
Though, Mohammed is never a trained or qualified medical doctor, he operates in Shishipe community as one. But how was he trained. “Actually, I trained as an auxilarry nurse and about to advance my education at the School of Health in Keffi, that is why I employed a nurse ( an auxillary nurse) to man the medicine store in my absence”.
The medicine store is nothing but a mean shift arrangement bereft of all medical equipment and work force that can guarantee safety for women in Labour. This place is just one of such places in Nigeria where the lives of millions of Nigerian women are left at the mercy of quack and self acclaimed “Doctors”, Here in Shishipe community about 600 women of childbearing age, over 400 children and even the community as a whole is placed on the hands of “Dr Muhammed”. Survival here does not seem relevant to this self acclaimed medical doctor but how much money he has to make from every treatment. Any person that dies from the activities of this man is taken as an act of God and nothing.
The Chief of the Community, Chief Daniel Gmagam lamenting the plight of women said two women die during childbirth recently and we lost three children to the cold hands of death not too long ago. And they are about 600 women and 400 children in this community who is next?
“Often times when there is a case of an emergency at night, our pregnant women in labour are carried to the nearest hospital with a motorcycle which is about one and half hours from our community on a bad road.”
According to him, there is no functional Primary Health care facility, no medical personel, dillapidated building, bad roads, no school, no safe water, no power supply , the medical person attached to the PHC don’t come to the facilities and when they come they hardly wait till the close of work. Our women and children are going through a lot, because we dont have water and power, the only source of water is the stream that we use for all purpose.
Chief Daniel said the community only have one LEA primary school with four teachers serving the community and four other communities around . ” our children treck about three hours to and fro to school at Mpape a neighboring community and this has affected their academic performance” .
I don’t want any casualty to arise from childbirth again the two women that died recently died in their prime,
He therefore, appealed to the government to come to their rescue. “we need motorable road, portable water, power, schools and functional Primary Health Care centers. We are very close to Maitama (an FCT high brow) yet very far from development.
A visit to the stream revealed that Shishipe community is in dire need of safe water. The stream is not far from the community but pregnant women will find it difficult to go to the stream because it is in the valley, apparently because of the difficulties to climb with water on her heads . The narrow bush path to the stream is full of feaces because they don’t have toilet facilities in the community. They practice open defecation. If you are not familiar with the environment, you might be stepping on feaces. Water is a major challenge. The only visible borehole in the community is not functioning because the pumping machine has been stolen.
Our Correspondent also took time out to speaking with one Mrs Naomi Jacob, a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA). She told our correspondent through an interpreter that she had been in the practice for over thirty years and had taken deliveries of all her daughters, daughters in law, and members of the community who do not have money to go to the hospital. In other word, poverty makes people to patronise her services. Responding on how she takes delivery, she said, “I used my hand to check the woman to know if the baby is ready to come”. She uses her bare hands perhaps or most likely unwashed and inserts it in the woman’s private part ignorant of the implications. She does not know that the baby and the mother can be infected through such practices. This is one of the major factors that contribute to maternal and child mortality.
Besides, the method of bringing out the planceta is not only crude and hellish for the woman. “I will press the woman’s tummy until the planceta is out.” She explained. When the woman is bleeding, Mrs. Naomi, said “I will administer local concoction obtained from a man in Mpape to stop the bleeding and then take her to the hospital. The horrible thing about this, is that she would have to leave the woman to get the local concoction from the man in Mpape a community about 60kms from Shishipe on a terribly bad road to get the concoction and if the man is not at home what becomes the fate of the woman? Your guess is as good as mine. However she narrated instances when she had referred about five women in Labour with complications to General Hospital Maitama, Wuse, and National Hospitals respectively. According to her, they all survived but without their children.
Another TBA, Mrs. Tenin Jonah told our correspondent, that poor finances was preventing women from patronising hospitals for delivery while the Traditional birth attendants were making brisk business even though it’s always a community effort of a kind. “We don’t charge them, they give us anything they have”.
According to her, the only primary health care center in Shinshipe is not functional, there is no medical personnel and the pregnant women go to the medicine store to meet Dr “Mohammed” and pay 1000-1500 naira to get drugs.
A visit to the only Primary Healthcare Clinic Mapa Lot 9 relocated to Shinshipe in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, a project of the FCT MDGs intervention 2010 project is to say the least an eyesore. The building has dilapidated, equipments burgled, while the leftover are tartared, dirty and unkempt.
Though there were evidences of a hurried attempt to clean up the place before when he got wind of my presence in the community. The Officer in Charge of PHC Mr. Musa Bokana told Journalists that he just resumed as the OIC of the clinic and had assessed the place and would give feedback to the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for a possible renovation of the Centre. He however, promised to relocate to the community with his family because of the distance to his present area of resident. Though he also promised to cope with the situation in Shiship Community, his body language does not suggest he could cope with a community bereft schools, power supply and safe drinking water while the only LEA primary school is said to be overstretched.
However, Fillers from the community has it that the former OIC also lived in Bwari but he was hardly at work a reason why most of the pregnant women prefer to deliver at home. But, Mr. Bokana said he would let the Health Secretariat know that the community could not be man by a single person.
At the Centre, they don’t run night shifts because they lack of personnel, no power supply, no water, no drugs, no ambulance in case of an emergency and the building is not fenced.
He promised to inform the Monitory and Evaluation Officer of Bwari Area Council, Mr. Peter Sunday of the situation on ground.
A pregnant woman Mrs Comfort Isaac told our correspondent that , the PHC in Shishipe was a mere building without facilities and medical personnel. I had my first child at Mpape, when the labour started in the middle of the night, I was lucky to have an uncle with Motorcycle. He helped me to the hospital that night even though, the road was terribly bad and am not comfortable, I endure it because, there was no alternative. ” at all at all all na em bad”. For my second child, I went to Cushinco hospital to be delivered of my baby.
Another pregnant woman, Mrs Happiness Emmanuel a first time mother to be, said she did not know when to start Antatal care. She preferred to deliver at home as others are doing. She said it was cheaper and more comfortable to deliver at home after all other women also deliver at home. She concluded.
It was most disturbing when a mother was seen forced feeding a four months old baby with tuwo. One of a set of twin. Drinking,dirty water from the stream. “This is how we feed our children” She replied to a question from a journalist. However it was gathered that she was not the mother of the set of twins.
The maternal and Child mortality ratio in Nigeria is alarmingly high. Nigeria constitute 2% of the world’s population but contributes 10% of the world’s maternal mortality.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), “Every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 children under five and 145 women of childbearing age. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under five and maternal mortality rate in the world.”
The situation in Shiship community in the Bwari Area Council of the FCT potends threats to the lives of women and children in that locality. Except urgent steps are as demanded by the Comnmunity leader, Shiship might be another spot of loss of preventable lives, especially women and children.
Meanwhile, our correspondent visited Bwari Area Council and spoke with the Head of Department / Cordinator Primary Healthcare Services, Dr. Sunday Goji while reacting to the issues in Shishipe community he said, ” is not that we are not aware of the situation but we are handicapped because of our staff strength.
According to him, ” We have constraints of staff, our staff strength is about 30% . The Primary Healthcare Board is engaging Midwives and Nurses for the MSS scheme, we are hoping that we will get some staff posted to Shishipe PHC. Already, we have posted two Jonior Community Health Extension Workers and one Laboratory Scientist there when we were told that you came and demanded to know why there was no medical personnel to man the PHC “.
The Council stabilized in the area of payment of salaries just last month and we don’t have capacity to recruit more staff, this cut across the six area council, he said. The PHCD have re-engage the Midwives and Nurses for the Save the One Million Lives programme, the budget has been approved and about 200 of them will be employed through the MSS scheme Programme, we are going to key in to it and get people posted to the hard reach areas like Shishipe.
Reacting to a question on the bulgged facilities at Shishipe PHC, He said, we hard about it, the health worker reported the incident. The challenge we have is that we don’t have security to guard the PHC and there is no peremiter fence. According to him, It all started during the time of El Rufai when there is monitazation. The securities and cleaners were laid off and the council was left with Facility Managers to provide them with services, but again, they were not being paid and they left. This is why we don’t have security.
According to him, some facilities are what we call high volume, services there are well established so we do not want to disrupt it by moving some staff because we will still have the same problem.
He promised to visit Shishipe during the Mater and Child Health Week and discuss with the community leaders.
On the issue of the self aclaimed doctor, he said there is noting they or NMA can do because is not under their jurisdiction. There is a committee for the Registration of Private Health Facilities that are directly in charge of it.
On the issue of renovation, he said the council will look into it in the next year’s budget because we have to do an accessment before we budget.
Speaking on the issue of water, he said they are going to provide them with bole hole and on power supply he said, we can only provide them with a Generator for now. And include them in the rural electrification.
Also responding to the issue of quackery, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Nigerian Madical Association (NMA) Chairman, Dr.Chiedozie Achonwa said one of the things his led executives promised to do when they came on board last year was to tackle the issue of quackery in all ramifications.
According to him, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) have a department that is responsible for the registering of private hospitals and taking care of the quacks. It is their duty to go around and make sure they take care of such people and apart from that, the Hospital Services, Association of General Medical Practioners and the NMA have had three meetings in respect to tackling such issues.
He further said that they depend on information from the public because they cannot be everywhere at the same time.
The FCT NMA Chairman added that, there are situations where the organization saddle with the responsibility of clamping down on fake doctors carry out Cloosing Down Exercises, they go round facilities to see the one that did not measure up to standard. Unfortunately, there are many facilities in FCT that you can not cover all of them.
According to him, “The facility you are talking about, what we need to do is to get the attention of the committee in charge to the facility so that they can visit there and see what they can do.
He added that, if there is a non functional PHC, the community will find help else where that is why they are patronizing him, because nature is about vacuum. PHCD should see how they can help to make sure that PHC is functional.
What they have done in FCT is to train at least one health worker in 200 PHC on neonatal resorcitation, taking care of the newborn to reduce child mortality on FCT. We have done 100 and we are going to complete another 100 next year, he said.