Billy Abel, Yola
Mbanga, Lite, Bankowa, Diyaso, Nwoye, and Gangsati villages are all communities in Gangfara Ward in Mayo Belwa of Adamawa State. They are reputed for their fascinating geographical setting, which is situated on top of the mountain.
For many people, living on a mountain is exotic and alluring. But this is not the same for these communities, who are beginning to feel the negative impacts of residing away from of their neighbours. In many cases, they are hard to reach and in times of crisis, they are unlikely to access quick interventions and relief.
To access healthcare, which they often do, they walk as much as 30 kilometres to the nearest primary healthcare facility in Gangfada, an exercise that demands a lot from their women, who make torturous descent to the foot of the mountain to reach help during pregnancy and labour.
Hajara Dadje, manager, Gangfada Primary Healthcare Centre (PHCC), said the experiences of the members of the community are challenging and tortuous, adding that often their women are conveyed in locally made stretchers when they are in labour. She underlined the rigour of descending down from the mountainous communities.
She explained that despite the tumbling challenges downwards, there is an increasing decline in the number of stillbirths recorded at the centre: “Before this time, we record about five, 10 or more stillbirths in a month. But now, we record one stillbirth or sometimes zero cases in a whole month.”
Daily Sun gathered that much of the credit of the improved record of successful childbirth delivery record is reserved for Community Resources Persons (CORPs), the European Union–UNICEF funded programme, which has behind the new altitude to health care in the area. The programme entails a couple of medical supports, but also involves sending a number of trained local health officers to serve as first point of calls where and when there is a health emergency.
Dadje said: “The works these CORPs do are amazing. They are trained they also help children, aged two months to five years. But they refer severe cases to us. We do the same we refer to the cottage hospitals.
“Their presence in this communities is important because the members in their respective communities listen to them. So, they help advise locals in their communities to seek immediate medical help or to embark on immediate decent to where healthcare centres are available, if they are on the mountain.
“That is significant because unlike in the past, these patients arrive to our facility only when things are already bad. In order words, the CORPs help avert unnecessary delays during labour or reduce the delays to the barest minimum.
“Just yesterday, due to the one of these referrals by a CORPs, a woman was delivered of a baby on arrival here, within three hours. In the past, only God knows what would have happened. Maybe, she would have arrived here in the third stage of labour.
“Inside this facility in these communities, we have amazing delivery room, with state of the art facility donated by EU-UNICEF and things we never dreamt would be here, and that has changed things drastically and fantastically too.
“In the past, before these facilities were donated, the people did not bother coming over for medical care. They preferred to attend to their medical needs in their old ways.
“But check the record, the patients are trooping into PHCCs in Gangfada daily. This facility always comes second in terms of performance and inflow of patients in the entire Mayo Belwa, because they have seen the difference and are committed preventing unnecessary deaths in their midst.”
The immediate past facility manager of the Gangfada PHCC, Jackson Machavo, admitted that the intervention of the international bodies has been helpful: “Now, because of the big role EU-UNICEF is playing here, children under five are well taken care of and the culture of over-dependence on this facility has dropped.
“All their drugs are free, antenatal and child delivery is free. We have made remarkable progress, this project is God-sent and should be continued.”
Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC), Tola, with nine CORPs, recorded only one stillbirth since EU-UNICEF introduced the scheme in 2015. Its manager, Aishatu Haruna, explained: “This is one of the selfless and life transforming projects ever introduced. The project in its design addresses so many issues that prevent locals from accessing modern medical help for children under five and women.
“First, the persons helping are in their communities and they know them, so the rate of persuasion and believability is high. Second, the drugs are free and they never run out of stock. That is significant because if the community members had approached most of our CORPs and found that the drugs for their children were always not available, they would have lost faith in the entire project.
“To even hear that EU-UNICEF might round up the project is heart breaking and frightening. We want this to continue and the state government should not allow this to happen. We do not want to go back to those periods when women and children were dying any how.”