Some say it is very risky to be born in Nigeria. As if to support the assertion, available statistics indicate that Maternal mortality ratio (modelled estimate, per 100,000 live births) in Nigeria was reported at 814 in 2015, while mortality rate of infant (per 1,000 live births) was reported at 66.9 in 2016, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators.
It is therefore a relief and exciting development getting to know better individuals and organisations outside government institutions that are making worthwhile interventions to redress this trend and change for better the life expectancy for Nigerian mothers and infants.
One of such organisations is the PeachAid Medical Initiative, based in Abuja and founded by Nkasiobim Nebo, who ventured into the humanitarian lifesaving venture as result of her personal experience with her own mother and birth of her siblings. Having experienced first hand how devastating mother/infant mortality could be, Nebo, the third child in a family of five children, made up her mind early enough not to fold her arms and watch others suffer same fate.
With that determination, she decided to get equipped with requisite knowledge and training. She eventually trained to become a Doctor of Missiology (Healthcare Ministry).
She founded PeachAid in July 2015, to address the cause of maternal mortality in Nigeria by creating access to free comprehensive Antenatal Care (ANC) services in rural communities, delivered by skilled birth attendants. The NGO scans pregnant mothers, gives them opportunity of seeing the development of their babies for the first time and then thoroughly look through to identifying complications if there are any.
Afterwards, the mothers are provided with life-saving delivery kits to help in birthing healthy babies in a clean and safe environment, as well as keeping the mothers safe from infections and bleeding during and after child delivery.
PeachAid offers even more to Nigerian women and young girls, by distributing menstrual cups with instructions on the use and maintenance, to the countless female victims of Boko Haram insurgency, who now lack access to sanitary items as a result of poverty induced by the insurgency. It is understood these cups can last for up to eight years, thus saving the women and girls the cost of sanitary towels, and the dangers of using sand and ashes as alternatives to menstrual towels. These unhealthy practices are known to predispose women to reproductive tract infections (RTI).
Nebo’s interventions extend to family planning (FP), by creating access to high uptake of contraceptives in rural communities where dwellers continue to reject family planning services due to cultural beliefs, misconception about their effect on their health and physique, and religious beliefs. To advance this cause, PeachAid created a project called Free Contraceptive Security; which offers uninterrupted free supply of a variety of high quality contraceptives that women can choose, obtain and use without interruption.
She incorporated training local birth attendants to improve their knowledge in maternal health issues and family planning services. This is done without condemning what they do, but training and encouraging them to include new knowledge and research results in what they do. The idea is that until every pregnant mother in the rural community gains access to a functional healthcare facility with skilled birth attendants, local birth attendants cannot be ignored as in their hands most often in the country lie the lives of pregnant mothers, and the new knowledge and skills can certainly save more lives.
Nebo told Daily Sun: “At first, it was in the bid to give my parents a sense of closure after I was told they lost my immediate elder siblings when they were barely 11 months old; they were twins, had food poisoning and died minutes apart. This happened shortly after they arrived at the only functional healthcare facility which was very far from where they lived at that time. I started taking healthcare services to the children in rural communities.
“Along the line, I suddenly lost two of my good friends; one died from pregnancy complications and the other died from bleeding after child delivery. We have also noticed that most of the children we cared for has lost their mothers either during their birth or while pregnant for their siblings. That was when I thought of ways to get involved in reducing this terrible high rate of maternal death.
“PeachAid’s maternal health projects between 2015 and 2018 prevented Post-partum Hemorrhage (PPH), cord infection and other sepsis in about 20,000 mothers using the delivery kits; trained about 2,300 local birth attendants on maternal issues and family planning services; reached about 25,000 women with Oral Contraceptives (Levonorgestrel and Ethinyleestradiol low-dose oral contraceptive pill that is taken daily to prevent pregnancy); reached about 25,000 women with DMPA-SC injectable contraceptive (the most common progestin-only injectable contraceptive, reinjected every 13 weeks for a very effective, long-lasting, reversible, private method of contraception); reached about 4,320 men with our Male latex condoms, thus preventing uncountable unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
“Most of our projects are self-funded. Getting donors is a hard task, and sometimes dealing with some specific donor’s funding conditions can be an enormous challenge for us. And because we have a high level of dependency of donor funds, we are forced to sometimes put up with some uncomfortable donors’ behaviours.
“Another challenge is the suspicion attached to family planning methods, with the attendant low uptake of contraceptives in rural communities due to cultural beliefs, misconception about their effect on health and physique, as well as religious beliefs.
“Most dwellers in these rural communities refuse to even learn about the various options available, while some health providers are biased about providing family planning to women and girls who are unmarried, a development that endangers the lives of these young girls and leads them to dangerous and unsafe procedures in the attempt to terminate unwanted pregnancies.”