Back to the stone age!


Residents of Kobena community cry for the most basic of infrastructure

Not only does Kobena community have no hospital, life is hellish for his residents because there is no good school, no market, no access to clean water and ante natal clinic to provide medical care to expectant mothers. While male members of the community are calling on government to come to their aid, the women are crying because they are the main victims of the poor health facility in the village, reports JULIET UMEH

The conversation between Iyabo Jimoh, a 20-year-old mother of one, definitely told the story and the lifestyle of people of Kobena, Ilashe under Ori-Ade Local Community Development Area (L.C.D.A) Lagos State. Her baby boy, Israel is more than one year old, yet he has only taken immunisation against killer disease only once. When Saturday Mirror asked her why she did not take her baby to hospital for immunisation, she responded: “Me I no de go because the place dey far.” Mrs. Jimoh was referring to Ibeshe, the closest hospital where they in the community sometimes receive medical care.

Speaking to some people in that community gave them the opportunity to open up about their sufferings and the boldness to lay the facts bare. When Saturday Mirror visited the community, the people it met on ground cried about lack of government presence in the community, effect of which is maternal mortality in the area which whose population is not fewer than 2000, surrounded by water, has no hospital where men and women can consult a doctor. Hence, life there is all about water and boats, fishing and may be farming.

According to one of the women, who identified herself as Patience Joseph, she told our correspondent that she had been married for four years. “We go to Ibeshe clinic whenever we have access to boat to convey us, but when no boat is available, we resort to private individuals for our health care,” she said.

“When I was pregnant, I was going to Ibeshe. In the night, we had a nurse who helped people in case of emergency. We are suffering in this community. We don’t have a market; we go to Ojo or Badagry for our market.

Speaking in the same vein, Mrs. Taye Tetede, one of the women lamented: “What we are facing here is majorly transportation problem. When pregnant women go into labour, there’s no boat to take them to hospital. We don’t have a clinic here and our children don’t go for immunisation because of lack of access to clinic. So we need boat and clinic here so that our sick ones or pregnant women will be attended to,” she said.

While explaining how members of the community cope without equipment for healthcare till date, Mrs. Tetede said: “Sometimes they trek down to waterside before they can enter boat to Ibeshe town. In the case where the labour starts at night, they may charter a boat to Ibeshe.” Her husband, Mr. Jimoh, confirmed her revelation by saying that “the people are suffering in order to access medical care in their community.”

However, unavailability of healthcare service has resulted in a lot of women falling back on knowledge and experience of old men and women as well as herbalists for child deliveries, especially those that do not have wherewithal to ferry them to the nearest community where there is primary healthcare. Easily offering health care, the traditional type popular in primitive time, is Kosoko Dumeda, a 64-year-old traditionalist, who doubles as a fisherman. He takes joy telling everybody that he has expertise in traditional medical practice. “I always assist women if I am invited especially when they are having protracted or painful labour. I give them some concoction which can aid them to have a quick labour by making the baby to be easily delivered like slippery okra soup delivers bolus into the digestive system.”

The father of four also revealed that he was the one who delivered his wife of her four children said: “For women finding it difficult to labour, there are leaves that I do give them to drink that can boost quick delivery. The baby will be slippery like okra soup and come out easily. I do assist in the delivery process, immediately the baby comes out, I will tie the womb with tread to avoid bleeding. After the whole process, the woman needs not to go to hospital again.”

The man, also called Baba also said that he has solution to some other problems especially for babies that refuse to cry at birth. “There’s a leaf which I will give to the child in his or her mouth and he will cry immediately. The work of the leave is to break the barrier in the baby’s mouth and immediately the baby will start talking,” Baba Dumeda said.

Mr. Tetede also spoke to confirm Baba Dumeda and other herbalists of his ilk of the ability to help women during travails, saying, “Most of women are attended to by herbalists. If it is in the night, we used to call a nurse to help us. Then, some of the women used to be delivered of their babies at night and some of such delivery are done by herbalists especially in the night,” he said.

However, story of an average Kobena woman is not so pleasant but punctuated with pains and agony, because even Ibeshe, where they go to access medical care, is poorly equipped and as a result fails to care or cure, but record deaths.

Recently the whole community was thrown into sadness and grief when a pregnant woman died. Her untimely and painful death inspired a graduate of banking and finance of Valley View University, Ghana, Titilayo Emmanuel, daughter of Balogun of Kobena, Chief Julius Emmanuel, to solemnly vow to make her people proud as soon as she concludes her master’s degree, by embarking on a discussion with the government and relevant non-governmental organisations on improvement of health facilities in the area and by extension put an end to needless deaths of women with babies.

As the aforementioned death was not enough loss to the Awori community, “The death toll knell also sounded again last month in Ibeshe when a lady wanted to give birth but unfortunately died because facilities for childbirth were inadequate. There is a clinic in Ibeshe, but there are no enough facilities that will help them. In the case of the last lady, it was an emergency, because a Caesarean Section, CS, was supposed to be performed on her, but before she could travel from the village to the hospital she was referred in Lagos, she had given up the ghost. The baby also died. It is so painful,” Titilayo recounted looking mournful.

Also speaking about poor medical facilities, one of the indigenes of Kobena who is also the ward health community chairman in Ibeshe, Alhaji Sharifat Amodu, said even though they have health facility in Ibeshe where the people from Kobena come to access medical care, but it is under-equipped. He also revealed that there are some other hospitals in the other communities that made up Ori-Ade but some of them had been abandoned. “We have about eight communities under Ibeshe center. There are many hospitals there, but they are abandoned and we are pleading with government to assist us. We are pleading with government to put workers there for us,” he prayed.

However no fewer than three quarters of villagers Saturday Mirror interviewed gave the elected representatives of the area the rough side of their tongues, strongly blaming their insensitivity to plight of the masses, as the main cause of their pains. “Politicians made promises to facilitate ‘change’ and make life better before we elected them; now they have forgotten us,” a villager said. Some of the community members said that even top politicians have comfortable houses where they come to relax during weekends, “yet they turn blind and deaf to our plights,” another villager uttered.

But Baba Dumeda also holds grouse against politicians but thinks, “We need government to come to help us. We need hospital. During campaign they will come and promise us heaven and earth but after they have won they would not remember us again. We have not seen anything. They promised to give us flying boat and hospital till now, we have not seen anything.”

The voice of complaint is not only that of the elderly but the youth, if the sentiment of Tope is considered. “I fetch water nine times every day before I go to school. By the time I am done every morning, I will be so tired,” the nine-year-old boy said which later discovered the water in the well looked so dirty and unhealthy, yet that is what they drink and for domestic use .

“There’s no market in the community, we used to go to Ojo and Badagry. We go down to waterside to board boat down to market. And going and coming in is about N2, 000. But we cannot afford the cost, “Mr. Tetede said. However, responding on how they cope with the market, he explained: “We do plan it and you know we used to go fishing and our women will smoke the fish and take it to market to sell and after sales they will buy food there, that’s how we have been living.

According to a programme officer at DevComs, a concerned non-governmental organisation that sensitised the world about the shambolic primary health care condition in the community and later organised a visit by a press team, Ayodele Adesaumi, he lamented on the fate and challenges of the people of Kobena community and other communities in the coastal areas. He said the people are in dire need of basic amenities especially medical healthcare. “Suppose there are complications during labour, it’s a matter of sailing to town. And then even the road from Jetty where the boat will drop her to Ori-Ade L.C.D.A, secretariat where you find health facility, is also bad. Everything is just bad for people around this area. And this same situation is what you find in eight other communities surrounded by water, that you find here,” he said.

He therefore advised the government to reduce the delay that may occur at the second level and the third level. “That is the distance between home and the facility and also the delay at the facility level. What the policy makers would be doing at this time is to try to bring health facility close to the people and not just health facility but a quality health facility where a qualitative health services are rendered,” he advised.

He insisted that Ibeshe Primary Health Care (PHC) should be upgraded to a stage whereby more health workers will man the place so that pregnant women won’t get frustrated when they get there. “Even the same thing happens at Ibeshe community where they even have the socalled. Women there don’t even access the health facility because they do not really offer quality services there. So they have to still depend on traditional birth services. That is the only alternative they have,” he averred.

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