” I gave birth to twins in a canoe while trying to cross river Kaduna’’.
By Lola Seriki- Idahosa, Kaduna,…A journey from Kurmin Kaduna to Kawo General Hospital, North West Nigeria takes about two hours by pregnant women seeking antenatal care or in labour. Their only means of transport is through canoe and wheelbarrow which is usually a dangerous and an assiduous process for the women.
From available records, over fifteen pregnant women and twenty children have lost their lives in the course of trying to cross the river within a space of five (5 ) years.
As if that was not enough, several pregnant women have delivered on board canoes on the river on their way to Kawo General Hospital.
Kurmin Kaduna, a community Located in Igabi Local Government Area, is about 20 kilometers from the Kaduna Millennium City with the inhabitants made up of Hausa Fulani, Adara and Gbagyi tribes.
They are mostly farmers, fishermen and petty traders and the community has been in existence for over 200 years with a high population but without a health facility.
A twenty-five year old Amina Mohammed who gave birth to twins in a canoe on River Kaduna after a prolonged Labour narrates her ordeal .
I work as a petty trader, I have a wonderful husband who is a farmer and we got married. When we found out I was pregnant it was full of joy. Unfortunately however, I could not attend antenatal check ups due to the distance and the turbulent river that one has to cross to access the health facility. That fateful night I started a prolonged labour, and my husband managed to get to the river and got a canoe that could take us to Kawo and in the process , I gave birth to the twins who died few minutes before we could disembark from the canoe. That was how I lost my twins”, she said.
According to her, pregnant women in this village face great challenges when going for antenatal as there is no road and bridge to link up with kaduna, “Sometimes wheel-baroow is the only means of transporting pregnant women , most especially during the rainy season to get to the river before getting to Kawo General hospital.
“Sometimes some die along their way to the hospital due to the distance and the continuous bleeding from home. We need hospital in this community so as to save lives in these villages “, Amina said.
Speaking in the same vein, Twenty-eight year old Maryamu Musa who lost a child, said majority of women residing in the communities are afraid of carrying pregnancy, simply because of the critical situation they find themselves.
She disclosed that most pregnant women have resolved not to painstakingly go for antenatal, but to resort to traditional family planning.
She stressed the need for state government to come to their aid”. We are losing our sisters and children due to lack of PHC in our community.
She stated that politicians always come to the villages during their campaigns and make plenty promises which they fail to fulfill. Maryamu Musa said the community is in dire need of social aminities to improve lives of women and children in the area.
Some residents in the communities appealed to the State Government to rehabilitate an abandoned PHC, at Tudu Kurmin which was constructed about twenty years ago to carter for the communities .
The district head of Tudu- Kurmin, Mallam Adamu Mohammed Tudu-kurmin kaduna told this Correspondent who visited the communities that “our pregnant wives die while trying to cross river Kaduna for antenatal due to lack of functional health facility here.
” This was the only PHC that assisted thousands of women and children mostly villagers that are residing after the River, ‘’This is the only place they come for their antenatal and other medical needs but the place has been abandoned”.
According to him, ‘’we are calling on the state government, the UNICEF, WHO and other Humanitarian Organizations to rehabilitate the PHC, so as to save lives of thousands of women and children that could benefit from this facility. ‘’ For the past 20 years, we have been using our money to repair the hospital because we take it like our own’’.
He said that heavy rain storm has been removing the roof of the building and that they have been levying themselves through various ways to repaire it”. Most times when wind removes the zinc from the roof, we invite carpenters from the cities to come to our villages and do the repairs but nature always comes with its own problems’’.
“We need doctors and other medical health personnel in the health facility, we also need beds because we have 24 hours light in all the villages, so as to enable women and children to be accessing the facilities in the area. Am begging all Stakeholders to come to our villages and help us. We also need volunteer doctors and other health personnel”.
Another community leader. the Chief of Makwalla, Alhaji Umar Adamu confirmed that they lost many pregnant women and children in the community while trying to cross the river to access health facility. “Many men lose their wives while crossing the river at night when going to hospital for delivery. “We have written series of reports and letters to inform authority about the health and educational challenges but yet nothing has been done.
“We want government to construct bridge for our villages to link us with town, so as to reduce the number of deaths of pregnant women and children that are dying mostly at nights while crossing kaduna river when commercial canoe drivers have gone closed”
“We are appealing to the State Government , wealthy individuals, corporate organizations to help us build hospital, so as to reduce maternal and infant mortality in our areas”.
Investigation by our correspondent shows that the abandoned Primary Health Care Centre situated at Tudun-Kurmin was established to cater for eight communities with a population of over two hundred thousand people .
This is contrary to the World Health Organisation’s criteria for community with a population of 10,000, or stays as far as five kilometre away from the nearest health clinic, health post or Primary Health Care Centre.
The abandoned Primary Health Care Centre is located at Tudu-kurmin in Igabi –local Government area which is about 25 kilometres after crossing kaduna River through Rafin Guza with local commercial canoes passing through other villages in the same region.
Mallam Hamza Ibrahim, Deputy Director , Primary Health Care Services , in an interview, said that the Agency would visit the communities, ‘’We will send our team to access what is happening in those communities, get the database , we will also visit and look into the challenges they face with a view to taking action”, he said.
The commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Paul Dogo in his reaction claimed ignorance of the abandonment, but said the state Government was doing everything possible to meet the minimum service delivery gap in its 255 Primary Health Care Centres which include Tudu Kurmin Community’’
According to the Commissioner, the major health policy trust of government, is the revitalisation of the 255 PHC to meet the required standards