Shocking That Women Still Die In Droves At Childbirth – Dr. Akenroye on why he is marking 50th anniversary of mother’s death from maternal mortality.
Recently, more than 1,000 persons enjoyed free medical treatment in Ilutitun, a community in Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State. The kind and timely gesture was courtesy of Dr. Adegboyega Akenroye, a Lagos-based medical doctor from the community. Akenroye, who is the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the BalmGilead Group of Hospitals in Lagos, also runs a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), BalmGilead Medical Support in honour of his mother, Madam Victoria Aderemilekun Akenroye who died during childbirth five decades ago. The doctor is sad that in this age, 50 years after his mother’s demise, with all the medical knowledge and available facilities, several thousands of women still die needlessly during pregnancy or childbirth. Sometimes their babies also die in the process.
So, to mark the golden anniversary of the sad occurrence, he carried out a number of activities as a contribution to raising awareness on maternal mortality, including the free medical outreach. DAYO EMMANUEL was at the medical outreach and spoke to him. Excerpts:
Today is the first day of this free health outreach, how many patients were registered?
I think we have about 700. At least people got here as early as 7am and we started registering them. Then by 12 noon we had about 500 people that registered and by the time we finished in the evening we had about 800 registered. This is the day one of the outreach, we expect to be able to attend to more people on the second day when we shall be having our full team on ground.
How many did you actually attend to and how many doctors on ground?
We had three doctors on ground, we are still expecting more, there are about 10 doctors including surgeons coming from Ibadan. We were able to attend to 171 today being the first day.
What are the major ailments you have attended to so far on this outreach?
Well, there were varieties. There are cases needing surgical intervention. We had hernia cases, infertility problems, fibroid, many have just malaria. Some have chronic diseases. A lot have high blood pressure and hypertension. This program has helped them to know, they weren’t aware they had hypertension. We have children with various skin diseases, we have a lot of people with chest infections, some had to screen for TB which is a communicable disease. We have two pregnant women or thereabout, there was one that came directly from the hospital.
Are there hospitals in the community?
Yes we have a health centre and a maternity centre. The challenge is that some of these people cannot afford the treatment.
The town is relatively neat and that must have helped the general health situation, don’t you think?
Yes that is our culture, we try to take care of the environment as a culture. I remember as a child it was my duty to sweep the street, that makes the area clean.
What other problem is associated with healthcare in the community?
There is this major problem of ignorance, people are not aware of what the hospitals have in stock. We had to educate them about these facilities we have brought here today. Having information and being able to go there is a major challenge in this kind of neighborhood.
Don’t you think you may have to do a little bit more of awareness campaign in the near future as you sustain this kind of initiative?
That is even what is driving us apart from knowing where to get these facilities and how to access it and when they don’t have the information they can’t access the facilities. Even some when they can access it what they need is not available. So what we do is to sensitise the community on where to get what facilities and how to access them at the right time. What we are doing now is to sensitise them that health is vital and that even if you don’t have money, you should be able to access healthcare. Some of them are not sick but they just heard the services are free so they came to check their BP. A few of them were in that category. What we need to do to reduce the mortality in this community is to make the people check their health status regularly instead of waiting till they are sick because leaving it till they are sick may be too late.
The initiative is in remembrance of your late mother?
It is an NGO called Balm Gilead Medical Support, it is in remembrance of my mother who died young because of delay in accessing medical facilities. She was in labour for three days and three nights because they could not even transport her to where to get medical assistance and eventually by the time they could transport her to the general hospital after labouring for three nights and three days. After getting her to the general hospital, the only doctor had traveled. She waited another 24 hours and by the time the doctor came back, they discovered all she needed was a Caesarean Section because the baby was breached. The baby was just breached and all they needed to do was to perform a Caesarean Section. They then performed the operation and the baby came out alive, she was well too but I guess by the time the baby came out, there was already an infection that already set in. Few days after, my mother had complications and died. If she had been attended to earlier, probably she wouldn’t have had any complications and would have most likely survived. But unfortunately even 50 years after, according to the statistics available there are about 5,000 mothers that died after child birth last year (2016) and those were the ones reported. People die in rural communities unreported. People die at home and even at the traditional birth attendant centres without being reported. So we are trying to reach out as an NGO, to ensure that women do not die because when a woman dies the children are going to be affected. It’s a very deep problem. If you look round you would see that many women are very hardworking and they are the pillars of support in their various households. They are the ones to go to the farm, to the market and they would do anything to ensure that their children get good education so if a child loses his or her mother, that child is going to suffer except God helps that child. Only a lucky few scale through. I am among those lucky ones that survived because I had a father that was supportive but if my father had gone to marry three or four wives, what would have happened to me? That is why we have to talk about it that women should not die because they are pregnant or because they want to give birth. The facilities are there, the technology is there, but people need to be sensitized so they can access them. That is the thrust of this initiative.