Igbologun – A Community Yearning for Government’s Intervention – NOTAGAIN Campaign
Lagos, June 2016 - When NOTAGAIN Campaign Media team visited Igbologun, an island community in Amuwo Odofin Local Governmenr Area of Lagos State, we witnessed the helpless situation experienced by pregnant women and children in the community with respect to health care. Located close to the traditional ruler’s quarters is a Maternity Centre which appeared to be deserted as there were no patients in the facility at the time of visit. The health facility looked spacious, with many rooms, including what looked like a doctor’s quarters yet it is not being utilized by the community residents. What then is the problem? Community members attested to the fact that they rarely visit the facility because it is ill-equipped and, according to them, had no doctor or qualified nurse to attend to them. The health facility runs from Monday to Friday. They open in the morning and close early afternoon.
This peculiar situation on the island has made this vulnerable group of society members become clients of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) who use head knowledge and oral traditions passed down through the ages. Usually these TBAs are the elderly women in the community with have witnessed quite a number of births and proclaim to offer the equivalent of midwife services to the laboring mothers. Many women, including those in neighbouring communities, have died in the hands of these TBAs.
Elizabeth Duke, a 20-year-old pregnant woman from a neighbouring community, Sabokoji, visited the government owned Maternity Centre in Igbologun to deliver her baby. However, due to the fact that there was no health personnel on ground to attend to her, she veered to a traditional birth attendant. After two days of trying to forcefully get the baby out, Elizabeth developed a complication after which she was taken to Igbologun Medical Centre around 4 a.m. Igbologun Medical Centre is owned by a medical doctor, Gbolahan Sodipo. Thankfully, the mother and baby were saved and the complications managed.
This is not always the story as many other pregnant women have lost their lives, and at times their babies as a result of complication from being mishandled by non-medical practitioners. Other factors responsible for maternal mortality in the community is unsafe abortion, which many teenagers and married women resort to. Some others resort to unassisted home delivery, due to the cultural belief that strong women do not need assistance during delivery.
Dr Gbolahan Sodipo, set up Igbologun Medical Centre five years ago, after witnessing the untold hardship faced by the inhabitants of the island at his previous designation. In the past, Dr Sodipo had a make-shift ambulance which was his car, a space bus, but the difficulty of maintaining it and running the centre on stipends, coupled with the sandy conditions of the road has further dwindled the hopes of saving more lives of the pregnant women. The vehicle was eventually damaged after several visits to the mechanic’s. As a general practitioner, when a patient’s case is beyond his control, he calls on his stand-by speedboat transporter to take the client to the Mainland centres such as Island Maternity Centre, General Hospital, Apapa and Mercy Children Hospital for adequate and more specialized care and treatment. Dr Sodipo’s facility is the saving grace most inhabitants now run to for help. The private centre often runs on an almost ‘charity’ cause as many clients do not eventually pay up their bills completely.