Igbologun: Tragic Journeys Of Expectant Moms In Search Of Health Care | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Igbologun: Tragic Journeys Of Expectant Moms In Search Of Health Care

Posted: Jul 27, 2016 at 2:50 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chioma Umeha

Lagos-There were these three pregnant women who usually come for antenatal then, these women were very beautiful and they dressed very well.
“I always use them to cite examples for the rest to follow. Then, it happened that we lost one of them, while the second one lost her baby. So with much pain in my heart, I asked the friend that brought her to the hospital, what happened to her.”
She told me that she started bleeding one late night. So I said to her: “You have my number, why didn’t you call me so I can bring ambulance to the place?’’  She said the ambulance cannot reach the place. So I asked again: “ is that place part of Lagos?’’
These were the words of Dr. Sodipo Gbolahan, Medical Director, Igbologun Medical Centre, the only hospital in Igbologun, Snake Island, Apapa, Lagos.
Gbolahan, a general practitioner told Independent   that he established a hospital in Igbologun Island,   a hard-to-reach area to bring health services closer to the 20,000 populace.
Igbologun is one of the riverine communities in Amowo-Odofin Local Government Area, Lagos, where pregnant women and children pay through their nose to obtain health care, although maternal services are free in Lagos State.
This island community, also known as Snake Island, made up of largely child bearing women and children, has only one poorly functioning Primary Health Centre (PHC), which is not patronized for maternal services.
Independent learnt that the PHC- Igbologun Maternity Centre has no doctor, while the nurse in charge is not always on ground. As at the time of visit, the only person at the PHC was a health assistant who simply identified herself as Aminat Ogungbemi. Without any patient on ground, appearing bored, Madam Aminat sat idly at the courtyard.
Investigations by Independent also showed that no woman has given birth at the facility in over 10 years.
Baale of Igbologun community, Chief Amisu Alao Gegeiyawo, and other community members confirmed this.
Thanks to Igbologun Medical Centre, the only clinic, privately-owned, which has turned out to be the succour of many pregnant women and children with severe health complications even as the gate of the PHC remains shut.
For instance, Charity Felix, aged 32, told this reporter how she first visited the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) in search of health service at the risk of her life and that of her baby. She also narrated how she went through a perilous sea journey at night during labour to assess care at the Medical Centre at Igbologun.
Her words: “There is no doctor at the PHC where I stay, only one nurse. I am just a housewife and my husband has no money. I didn’t know I could survive this labour. Thanks to the Medical Centre at Igbologun where I had a successful ceasarian section.”
Similarly, Elizabeth Duke, 20-year-old and her baby, is among the lucky ones whose survival was made possible by Igbologun Medical Centre. “I was brought to the facility via the sea, early in the morning, around 4 am, after two days of labour. I had first gone to some traditional birth attendants (TBAs) because there was no doctor at the PHC. When they could not handle my case, I was thereafter brought to the private hospital where I finally delivered through cesarean section (CS)
“I was in excruciating pain; I didn’t know I could survive the journey. I almost died at sea. I undertook about 30-minutes boat drive that night from my community – Sabokoji, before I finally arrived at the Medical Centre,” Duke told this reporter.
However, both Mrs. Felix and Mrs. Duke were detained in the hospital, until their husbands were able to pay the N160, 000 each for the CS.
Dr. Sodipo, explained that Mrs. Felix was brought to his clinic around 2am by a traditional birth attendant where she had gone to give birth.
Confirming Duke’s experience, he said, she had obstructed labour. “I never knew that she will survive with her baby.”
Another seven-month-old pregnant woman at the Medical Centre, Adejoke Yusuf, said she is at the clinic to save her unborn baby, regardless of the cost of medical care.
“Last year September, I lost my baby while trying to deliver at a TBA, Mama Lagbo’s place. She gave me something to drink but the baby had already died. I was rushed to the General hospital but my baby could not be saved. So I don’t want my baby to die, that is why I am here,” Yusuf, the 28-year-old hair dresser told Independent.
The doctor explained that his patients are mostly emergency cases.  “There are high cases of teenage pregnancy here. Sometimes they go for abortion and then they have complications. We also have cases of HIV because most do not deliver at the hospital so there is no screening.  For the children we have febril convulsion, malaria, anaemia, sepsis, stooling and vomiting, anaemia is common because there is no good water. For pregnant women, it is bleeding, obstructed labour and abortion complications that we see”, he said.
The Baale of Igbologun, appealed for government’s urgent intervention to save lives in the community, especially that of women and children. He said: “We have no road, no pipe borne water and no good hospital, except the private clinic”.
Also, the Chief Imam of Igbologun, Oseni Saka Olarigbigbe, called on government to save the lives of pregnant women and children in the riverine communities. “Our pregnant women risk their lives on the boat every time they want to access the Kadoso general hospital at Ajegunle or any other general hospital. Before they get there, some must have fainted or died on the sea. We want a general hospital in the community; the PHC here has no drug for all ailment, no qualified doctor and equipment. Since 2004, no woman has given birth at the PHC.”
Reacting to the situation, The Assistant Director Medical Service, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr. Mrs. Mazeedat Erinosho, said Lagos state is aware of the challenges faced by women and children living in the riverine areas. “The problem is not peculiar to Igbologun Community alone. Right now the State doesn’t have enough money to handle every problem so what we are doing is making sure that the PHCs are functional.
Dr. Erinosho, who spoke on behalf of the commissioner for health Lagos State, told Independent that the State will soon resuscitate the PHCs and ensure it is functioning optimally.
Dr. Sodipo,   confirmed in an interview on Tuesday, with Independent that a Medical Office Assistant (MOA) from the State Ministry of Health has already visited the area to ascertain situation report on the PHC for government to look into the issue. This may be a sign of light at the end of the tunnel in the search for proper primary health care for Igbologun Community.