Nigeria Trip Report from the Executive Director
I recently returned from a supervisory visit to our mother and child health project in Ebonyi State in southeast Nigeria. Through partnerships with the local government and rural communities we are establishing fully staffed and fully equipped primary health centers in rural areas that focus on mother and child wellbeing. This is a revolution in a country which is the second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world (UNICEF).
The Appreciation Web exercise, such as this one at Odeligbo Health Center, demonstrates how we are connected and depend on each other. Everyone is praised for his or her contribution to the team.
I visited four of the five AMURT-supported health centers and noted high attendance, competent staff and efficient record keeping. Since the beginning of 2013 our health centers have recorded 843 antenatal visits and 302 safe deliveries. Our two ambulances have rushed 36 birth related emergencies to the main hospital in Abakaliki, with no maternal or child deaths. Our health centers are staffed around the clock by health workers who care, which creates strong patient confidence. In describing her experience at Odeligbo health center, one satisfied mother said: “I was loved.” In addition our outreach staff visit the home of every women of childbearing age to talk about safe pregnancy and safe delivery, creating a supportive community network.
I visited the village homes of eleven participating women to assess their level of satisfaction with the project. Such visits provide the opportunity to better understand people and share the joys and challenges of life. All the women I visited were content with our services, with one woman saying “I went to the health center happy and came back happy.” 80% of these women came for antenatal clinics, and 80% planned to deliver in the facility.
Peter Sage (second from right) visiting a mother in Elugwu Ettam. Elizabeth told us that health center staff visited her at home and taught her what to eat in pregnancy, how to bathe a baby and how to breast feed.
During my trip we also held appreciation days for our clinical staff that included team building activities, staff recognition and impact assessment. The team building activities were especially popular not only for the fun they provided but for the way they affirmed everyone’s importance in the team from the doctors to the cleaners.
Our commitment to improving the condition of rural women and children in Nigeria is long-term. In the immediate future we will expand to a new project area, build more staff quarters and improve our malaria and HIV-prevention services. Malaria is the biggest killer of children in the area, and the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child is high, so these diseases merit our full attention.
For more information please visit http://nigeria.amurt.net/
Best wishes to all!
Ps: We are also proud of our ongoing work to support the Syrian refugees in Lebanon where we have touched the lives of more than 5,000 people in the last year. Read more at http://amurt.net/syria