There is a Yoruba saying that literally translates to “To achieve an understanding with a mute, you must convey your message repeatedly”. A mute, in this case, would translate to a noncompliant person. This noncompliance is well related to how pregnant women (and their families) prefer traditional birth attendants (TBAs) to skilled, orthodox birth attendants.
A scorecard that the Lagos State Accountability Mechanism for Maternal and Newborn Health (LASAM) produced with support from MamaYe indicates poor performance in certain maternal and newborn health indicators, such as attendance of antenatal care, immunisation, contraception, and malaria treatment.
It may be safe to say that when only 49% of pregnant women in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area (LGA) registered for antenatal care before 20 weeks of pregnancy (according to the scorecard), it is unknown whether the remaining 51% are receiving care from TBAs, mission homes or no care at all. This means that over half of pregnant women in that LGA are missing out on the opportunity to receive health messages and be assessed for risk factors and the correct care if problems are detected. This puts them at greater risk of health problems, which could result in the worst case scenario.
Traditional rulers Oba Gausu Alani Rasaki of Ibeshe Kingdom (R) and Oba Taofiq Adegboyega of Imore/Apapa (L). Oba Taofiq Adegboyega naratted how his mother died while giving birth at a period when there was no adequate information on maternal and newborn health and patronage of orthodox health care was also very poor. He used his story to encourage pregnant women and their families in his community to key into the MamaYe call to action.
To achieve an understanding with pregnant women and their families that skilled birth attendants are safer than TBAs thus requires continuous engagement. This is why the MamaYe campaign visited Amuwo-Odofin and Badagry Local Government Areas in Lagos State to sensitise the communities on improving the health of pregnant women and newborns.
Community sensitisation on maternal and newborn health, Amuwo-Odofin LGA, Festac Town, Lagos
LASAM, after producing its scorecard, encouraged the Lagos State government to promote awareness on family planning, early registration for antenatal care (before 20 weeks of pregnancy), and full immunisation coverage for children under the age of 1, amongst others.
As a movement for action for maternal and newborn health, MamaYe, in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Health, took the encouragement to these 2 Local Government Areas.
At the two events, Dr. Okaga, Reproductive Health Coordinator, Lagos State Ministry of Health, gave talks on the importance of hospital delivery, antenatal care attendance and family planning.
Dr. Sijuwade of the Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service spoke about the importance of availability of blood to save the lives of pregnant women and newborns, and encouraged guests at the event to donate blood.
Dr. Sijuwade encouraging the participants that one of the actions they could take to improve maternal and newborn health in their community was blood donation.
Community people donating blood as action to improve maternal and newborn health
At Amuwo-Odofin, reacting to Dr. Okaga’s message on the dangers that might occur from patronising TBAs, the head of the TBAs tried to justify the efficacy of their services. It was like a bout in which TBAs and the government strove to win the confidence of pregnant women.
When women experience complications in childbirth and pregnancy, lives can be saved if they have a good quality care by a skilled professional. Thus, constant and continuous engagements are needed to promote patronage of orthodox maternal and newborn health care services.
Head of TBAs, Amuwo-Odofin LGA, Lagos.
The MamaYe movement has raised Super Activists who are encouraging people in their communities to promote the patronage of skilled birth attendants and health care facilities for maternal and newborn health care services. Together, an understanding and uptake of services provided by skilled health workers to improve maternal and newborn health statistics in Lagos State will be achieved. Here are a couple of actions you too can take.