Thursday, December 9

Nigerian IDP Camp Midwife ‘Brings Joy’ to Mothers Left by the State | Global development

Having watched a woman and her baby die unnecessarily after being denied admission to a hospital for lack of money, Liyatu Ayuba wanted it never to happen again.

The 62-year-old is one of the almost 3 million internally displaced (PDI) – expelled from their homes by the violence of the Islamist militants of Boko Haram. Ayuba fled Gwoza in the northeastern state of Borno in 2011 with her family. After her husband was killed by Boko Haram and her teenage son seriously injured, she went on the spur of the moment Durumi camp for internally displaced persons 1, in the Nigerian capital Abuja, where some 500 families live.

“Two days after arriving at the camp, a pregnant woman fell ill. She was suffering from eclampsia”Ayuba says. The woman had traveled for two weeks from Cameroon, her first Boko Haram shelter stop, before being taken to Durumi 1.

“We took her to a government hospital, which asked us for 150,000 naira. [£265]. Even when we told them that we were internally displaced and did not have that money, they insisted. The woman and the baby died, ”Ayuba says.

At the beginning of the conflict, the Nigerian government allowed residents of the camp to have access to public hospitals. But with the nearest hospital nearly 10 miles away, many of the impoverished residents could not afford to get there, and as the camps filled with people, the government pressured internally displaced people to back home, cutting off their access to public health services. Ayuba had spent years watching her grandmother give birth to the babies as her village’s traditional midwife and took on the task of becoming the only midwife in the camp, albeit with no medical training.

Since then, Ayuba has helped deliver 118 babies, becoming known in the camp as the “leading woman” and, to the mothers she helped, a savior.

Hafsat Ahmed and one of his sons
Hafsat Ahmed with one of his sons, who was born in the Ayuba clinic. Photography: Dahlia Kholaif

“We don’t have enough money to go to the hospital. Having the ‘lead woman’ means that we can give birth to our babies for free. Who else can we turn to when we are in labor? But with his clinic so close to us, we can walk, have our babies and go home, ”says Hafsat Ahmed, one of Ayuba’s patients.

Another, Deborah Daniel, says that Ayuba came to her home to give birth to her baby, who is now seven months old, because she couldn’t go to the clinic.

According to the 2019 World Health Organization figures, Nigeria accounts for about 20% of maternal deaths in the world, with more than 600,000 registered between 2005 and 2015, and 900,000 cases of maternity near misses. TO 2020 study attributed the exceptionally high maternal and neonatal mortality rate to delays in seeking medical care.

For approximately 1.17 million internally displaced women, of whom 510,555 were adolescents of reproductive age in 2016, these delays are multiplying. To 2020 report from the Center for Reproductive Rights, a global legal advocacy group, said that most of the women in Durumi camp gave birth in their tents and that those seeking care at a health clinic in the city were often detained there for not paying. the rates. In one incident, according to the report, the body of a woman who died at the clinic was not released until other internally displaced persons raised the money to pay the bill.

Therefore, Ayuba’s services are priceless. But his complete reliance on donations, including the 40-foot (12-meter) shipping container given him by an aid organization to serve as the camp’s clinic, means that his work is not sustainable.

Covid has drastically reduced visits from humanitarian organizations, so supplies delivered to Ayuba to help her maintain services have been depleted.

“I once had to use polythene bags to cover my hands because there were no gloves,” Ayuba says.

Umar Gola, whom the camp residents chose as their public relations officer, confirmed the impact of Covid.

“At one point, we wondered if we were the ones who brought the disease to Earth because people stayed away from us. Donations that once covered 100% of our needs were reduced to 20% or 15%, ”he says.

Proper staffing is another major challenge Ayuba faces as she struggles to recruit assistants.

“It is important to train others in case I am not there to help,” he says, adding, however, that not everyone is up to the task. “There is blood, seeing one in pain and so many other things involved. You cannot force people into such matters. “

At the moment, Ayuba has an assistant, Hadiza Ali, 41 years old. “I am happy doing what I am doing, even though it comes with many challenges. Sometimes the delivery comes at midnight, ”says Ali. “But I have this passion for it. I work well with a leading woman, which makes many happy. “

Ayuba and Ali caring for a pregnant woman
Ayuba and her assistant Hazida Ali examine a pregnant woman at the clinic. Photography: Dahlia Kholaif

In 2016, Ayuba’s work gained wider recognition when a private hospital in Abuja offered her four months of training to improve her skills in obstetrics.

“Ayuba’s work is commendable, but what pregnant women need is access to health facilities,” says Ummi Bukar, director of the Participatory Communication for Gender Development program (Paged) Initiative, an NGO.

“These internally displaced persons must be recognized by the authorities. This will allow them to have access to all basic services ”.

Bukar, whose organization uses the media to advocate for the needs of the internally displaced in Abuja, says they are pressuring government agencies to recognize the needs of the internally displaced: “Right now, they are just being allowed to fix themselves, with no one being responsible for them. “

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