By Hauwa Sidi, White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria Citizen Journalist
Duma and Mayaki communities are small villages in Lapai Local Government Area of Niger State, Nigeria. The indigenes of Duma and Mayaki community are mostly farmers and petty traders.
Access to health care in Mayaki and Duma communities is a huge challenge for most of the population, more so for women and children. The Primary Health Care centers in Duma and Mayaki communities are in deplorable conditions. The roof leaks when it rains, the windows are bad, there are no comfortable chairs, the environment is not hygienic especially for pregnant women and children and the labour room is in terrible shape. The nearest Primary Health Care center to Duma community is at the Local Government Area headquarters, which is about 25km from the community.
Mayaki on the other hand, is about 35km from the Local Government Area. For most pregnant women the burden of going to the Local Government Headquarters for health care is a huge challenge. The road from Mayaki and Duma communities to the LGA Headquarters, are also in deplorable conditions.
Mallama Hauwa Abubakar, a pregnant woman from Duma community narrating her ordeal says she pays as much as N1,000 to ride on motorcycle popularly known as “okada” on a terribly, bad, bumpy and lonely road to the Local Government Headquarters for her every antenatal care appointment.
For some pregnant women the economic burden, delays accessing care and the ugly situation of the road is rather too discouraging. In frustration, some turn to the traditional birth attendants known as TBAs for the much needed care.
Duma community has recorded some cases of preventable maternal and child mortality in the last one year. Underneath, these incidents are the gory tales of untold sufferings and hardship for the families and communities.
Also, the desperate need to access health care has also led to the rise of quacks in the communities. Cleaners at these dilapidated PHCs have now become doctors offering services like taking delivery, giving injections and doing blood transfusion among other services.
The 2003 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey reported that in Nigeria one-fifth of births received the assistance of a traditional birth attendant. One in every four births is assisted by a relative or some untrained persons while 17 percent are unassisted (National Population Commission 2004). The Survey included a series of questions aimed at obtaining information on the problems which women perceive as barriers to accessing health care for themselves. The most commonly cited problems is getting money for treatment (30 percent), followed by problem of distance to health facilities and having to take transportation (24 percent).
To improve the health care needs of the people of Duma and Mayaki communities, the Niger State Government needs to look into the primary health care centers as this is in line with Government plans to revitalize one PHC in each of the 274 wards in the state. The plan is part of Government commitment to ensure that citizens have access to quality and affordable health care services.
While the Niger State Government have received several commendations over its investment in health with the recent increase in the salary structure of health workers and increase of manpower across the State, there is still a lot to be done as for some women, children and communities, health care is a luxury only for the rich.
There is need for Government to increase her engagement with the citizens to ensure that investment in health in most communities is a reflection of the needs of the communities.
For Mallama Hauwa Abubakar, she simply wants the primary health care center in her community renovated so she does not have to take longs rides on “okada” to the LGA headquarters for antenatal care or even delivery.