I live in the most populous country in Africa. Nigeria. With a population of over 170 million. The public healthcare system is one the crummiest you can imagine and the country at large has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. I am not a pessimist. I am simply telling it like it is. The "haves" hop on on the next available flight to deliver their babies in America or Europe. It is the rage and a bragging point among the elite. The "have nots" are left to what the local healthcare system has to offer. Which is not much. Unless you are able to afford private healthcare. Each time I hear or read of a mother dying at childbirth, which is quite frequent, I freeze. We are talking about the 21st century here. Kudos to at least one out of the 36 State Governors who in the last 10 years made the goal of reducing maternal mortality a priority. He also happened to be a medical doctor by training.
I am bitter about the inequalities and injustices in the provision and quality of maternal healthcare. And it is personal. A few years ago, I connected with vendor who supplied chemicals. She sold original products vs counterfeits so I decided to stick with her. She was pregnant when I met her. Several months later, I needed to replenish my stock and went to her shop. I met someone else. I was confused for a moment and asked the person if I was in Laolu's shop. She nodded. But looked subdued. Since I was meeting this person for the first time, i did not want to read meaning into the look. So I proceeded to ask for the items I needed. She brought out the quantities I needed. And just before she tallied my bill, she said to me "we lost her". I asked who? And she said "Laolu". My immediate response to make sure we were talking about the same person was to ask "are you referring to pregnant Laolu"? She said "yes, we lost her during childbirth". I froze, refusing to believe what she was telling me. She was Laolu's older sister. I was in a daze. The baby survived but lost her mother and the baby was Laolu's first child. For the record, Laolu lived in a big city, Ibadan. The 3rd largest city in Nigeria. If she could go just like that, what is the fate of many women who live in the rural areas without the facilities a large city has to "offer". Just like that Laolu became a maternal mortality statistic in Nigeria. Like many before her. And like many after her. And that's why when i saw this Challenge, I felt I needed to write. To tell a true life story. That's all I have to offer.
To Dr. Mimiko, the former Governor, who developed the Abiye program in Ondo State to stem the tide of maternal deaths during childbirth, I say well done. To Dr. Laura Stachel who stunned by the horrendous conditions in which Nigerian doctors were working created We Care Solar to offer hospitals “Solar Suitcases” to deliver babies safely in the midst of frequent blackouts, I say GOD bless you. To Prof. Ojengbede who along with his team created the Anti-Shock Garment at the University College Hospital Ibadan to prevent death from haemorraghing after childbirth, I say GOD bless you too. To all who are inspired to come up with life-giving solutions, I say kudos and may the works of your hands be blessed.