Maternal and infant mortality rate in Nigeria is one of the highest in the world. One of the reasons for this is lack of healthcare services, especially in the rural communities. In this piece, BASHIR BELLO, our Correspondent in Kaduna State, examines the pathetic situation in Jankasa village, a community bordering Chikun and Kajuru Local Government areas of Kaduna State
It is no longer news that Nigeria is the second country in the world with the highest maternal mortality cases. Similarly, it is not also news that more and more communities in the rural areas in the country have no access to primary health care facilities thereby resulting in increasing number of women dying as a result of childbirth. Where they are such facilities, they are in decrepit condition. Many women have suffered and some continue to suffer permanent injuries in the course of child birth.
It is a general belief in the medical circle that inability of women to access good health care services or professional medical attention during childbirth is responsible for the significant figure of maternal mortality currently put at over 570,000 (NDHS 2013) on annual basis in the country.
Experts have also identified distance as one of the problems contributing to the country’s maternal and newborn mortality rate by approximately 15%. In cases where the women survive, they are left with life threatening conditions, and in such cases, a distance of 5km to PHC services is recommended in order to reduce the risk of mortality maternal and infant mortality incident.
Jankasa village, a community bordering Chikun and Kajuru Local Government areas of Kaduna State is one of such Nigerian communities without a primary health care facility. People in this community travel 15km to access health facility at Kasuwan Magani. This might even be a short distance compared to other communities.
People in this area decried lack of access to health care facility as largely responsible for maternal deaths recorded in the area. According to the residents, “The closest Primary health Care (PHC) to our community is 15 kilometres away. Most of us here don’t have cars. We only hire motorcycles. You can imagine taking a woman in labour on a motorcycle to hospital 15 kilometres away.
“Just last year, we lost 2 women who died during labour. We don’t know how many we are going to lose again. We believe if the government can help us set up a primary health care centre here in our village, it will go a long way to save our women and children from dying,” said youth leader of the village, Garba Gajere. They lamented on the deteriorating state of the only road linking the community with other communities.
“The road is too bad that vehicles and motorcycles find it very difficult to ply it, particularly during rainy season. Apart from the bad shape of the road bandits too do terrorize passersby in the night. This is why if we are conveying a sick person to hospital in the night we always go in group. If not, the attackers can block the road to rob the people of their belongings,” he said.
There are other communities such as Jankasa without health care facilities. This has only encouraged the people to stay back at home to deliver their babies. According to the youth leader, the village has been in existence for over 50 years and had not enjoyed infrastructural development, except a block of classroom which the government added to the ones built by the community.
He however called on both the local and state governments to come to their rescue by building a health facility in Jankasa as they have vast land to offer for the development of a clinic.
Deputy youth leader, Ezekiel Garba who corroborated what Gajere said, added that activities of bandits in the area had led them to form a vigilante group to protect themselves and their families.
He decried the absence of a health centre saying “we need assistance because we are in dire need of health facility in the village to save our wives”. Sharing her experience, Mrs. Rhoda Ezekiel, a mother of two said she had three antenatal clinic visits during her last pregnancy at a hospital in Kujama adding that she later had to relocate to Kujama where the hospital is prior to her delivery.
However, a pregnant woman in the community, Mrs. Tina Iliya, told Nigerian Pilot, that going to hospital for antenatal is not attractive again adding that she plans to deliver her baby at home. “I don’t go for antenatal because of distance; I do not know my expectant date of delivery, so I am just hoping when it comes, I will deliver at home,” She said.
The government of Kaduna State says it plans to upgrade one healthcare facility to a comprehensive centre in each political ward. But the situation in Jankasa village and other communities bring home the fact that government need to rise to its responsibility of providing health care facilities close to the people, and such health facilities should be manned by qualified personnel.
If this is done as a matter of urgency, the number of women who die as a result of complications after delivery, as well as infant mortality would reduce drastically.