With increased cases of maternal and child mortality, a non-governmental organisation, Brown Button Foundation, recently trained traditional birth attendants in Katsina State on safe birth methods.
Yinka Ogundimu Writes
For three days, Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and Community Health Attendants (CHAs) gathered in Katsina State at three different senatorial zones of Funtua, Daura and, Katsina for one purpose. It was for the safety of lives for which they are responsible.
In northern Nigeria where medical personnel are scarce and medical facilities inadequate, TBAs and CHAs have become major sources of primary maternity care during pregnancy and after childbirth, but not with required experience.
Accordingly, a refresher course was organised for them by both the Brown Button Foundation (BBF) and Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN), and supported by the Service to Humanity Foundation and Ministry of Women Affairs in Katsina
The wife of Katsina State Governor, Mrs. Shema surrounded by dignitaries who ensdorsed the training with their presence
To give it impetus, the training was attended by dignitaries such as the wife of the Governor of Katsina State, Hajiya Fatima Shema; wife of the Deputy Governor of Katsina State; wife of the state assembly Speaker, Hajiya Rukayya; Commissioner for Women Affairs for Katsina State, Hajia Asma’u Abdullahi; Special Adviser to the governor’s wife on health matters, Hajiya Halima Idowu; and Special Adviser to the Governor on Poverty Alleviation, Alhaji Bature Masari Umar.
Others in attendance included the Transition Committee Chairman of Funtua Local Government, Alhaji Abdu Isa; Vice Chairman, Daura Local Government, Alhaji Tukur Ja’afaru; and wives of the transition committee chairman of Funtua and Daura Local Government, Hajiya Halima Abdu and Hajiya Hadiza Kabir Musa; traditional ruler of Maska, Funtua Local Government; Director, Primary Health Care (PHC) WOFAN, Hajiya Salamatu Garba; and BBF Assistant Executive Director, Mr. Ife Bamidele, as well as religious leaders.
The dignitaries sacrificed their various important assignments from April 8-11 to take part in the training themed: “Refresher Training for Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and Community Health Attendants.”
The training attracted about 150 TBAs and CHAs, represented by 50 each from the senatorial zones.
The atmosphere was charged as the auditorium reverberated with the cheering and clapping of excited TBAs and CHAs who had gathered to witness the much awaited refresher course on safer delivery methods.
With Nigeria being the largest in Africa and has second incidence in the world of high maternal and infant mortality, it was really necessary for the training to take place.
The main goal of the training of TBAs and CHAs, according to the organisers was to reduce the alarming rate of maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria.
Sessions facilitated by the duo of Hajiah Halima Isma’il Idowu and Shafaatu of BBF helped TBAs gain the necessary understanding and corrected harmful practices like the use of toothpaste in sealing the umbilical cord, hot baths, consumption of very hot pap with heavily loaded potash, delays in referral to the clinics, and reuse of blades and scissors by traditional birth attendants.
Bamidele said the training was organised to offer best practices with regards to local birth delivery as 70 per cent of deliveries are performed by the TBAs. According to him, more than two million women live in rural areas where the rate of maternal and child mortality is high, hence the need for proper training of the TBAs to check the trend.
In her contribution, Hajiya Garba said the training was a reminder of what the TBAs already knew and what needed to be improved upon to further reduce deaths arising from deliveries.
According to the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Nigeria was placed second in maternal mortality in the world and first in Africa. “This is the reason for the collaborative efforts to address the problem,” she said.
She disclosed that the wife of the governor, who had expressed concern about the indices, initiated the training programme held in the three senatorial zones of the state.
She said Hajiya Shema would distribute delivery kits provided by the BBF to the participants drawn from the zones to provide support for their work.
Alhaji Abdul Isa and the Vice Chairman of Daura Local Government acknowledged the efforts of Shema and his wife in showing concern for the plight of mothers and children in the state.
Speaking at the event the governor’s wife expressed gratitude for the efforts of BBF and WOFAN in curbing the alarming rate of maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria. She noted that equipping local birth attendants would help in addressing maternal and infant mortality in the country.
She said with the acquired training, she had become a TBA herself. She called on the TBAs to maintain delivery registers so that adequate records and statistics can be kept in the state.
She advised husbands to allow their wives to have access to antenatal care and hospital delivery systems. She harped on early referrals by the TBAs to ensure the safety of lives for mother and child.
She urged pregnant women to keep at least 10 naira daily to enable them have enough money to cater to their needs during pregnancies and also for the purchase of sterilised birth kits at lower costs.
She advised the pregnant women on the importance of good nutrition in pregnancy and gave examples of locally made foods with important nutrients needed during pregnancy. She promised that the state would deliver mobile clinics in every local government areas and free drugs services to women and children.
Hajiya Shema added that the state has regular programmes on immunisation and nutrition and urged the pregnant women to ensure they participate.
Represented by Alhaji Bature Masari Umar, the governor thanked BBF and WOFAN and made a request for more training initiatives in every local government area.
The TBAs and CHAs were trained on various important topics on safe delivery methods. The topics included the female reproductive system, menstruation, early signs and symptoms of pregnancy, ante-natal care and nutrition in pregnancy, danger signs during pregnancy, maintaining a clean birth area, personal hygiene of birth attendants, the importance of using sterilised equipment during childbirth, labour, placenta care, as well as early referral and record keeping of births.
The TBAs were advised to stop their various harmful methods of using their hands to check the position of the baby in the womb of a woman, just as they were educated on why it is dangerous for mother and child.
The commissioner warned that any TBA or CHA would be arrested where they are found deviating from safe delivery methods, as it increased the risk of infections to mother and child, and could lead to death.
WOMEN FARMERS ADVANCEMENT NETWORK.