To mark this years’ United Nation General Assembly MamaYe-Evidence4Action Nigeria are celebrating Adepeju as our SDG 3 champion of 2017. Her good work and initiative in reducing maternal and newborn mortality in Nigeria, through the distribution of ‘Mother’s delivery kit’ containing sterilised equipment birth attendants use during child delivery, and extensive training of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) and Community Health Extension workers (CHEW) in rural communities, it to be commended.
This week I spoke with Adepeju about her inspiring work.
Tell us about your organisation Brown Button.
What we basically do at Brown Button, is to go into communities and train Traditional Birth Attendants and Community Health Extension Workers (CHEW), set up linkages between the CHEW and TBA’s and improve supervision of TBA’s activities. We also distribute delivery kit to them and advance their knowledge and skills through training.
How does Mother’s delivery kit help in reducing maternal and newborn mortality?
Apart from just training birth attendants and establishing linkage setup for them to make sure they are better equipped to effectively execute their job, we discovered that access to sterile supply was a challenge in many of these rural communities. This made us introduce ‘The delivery kit’ which contains basic sterile supply that a woman need during child birth in rural community. So we train, provide linkages and try to improve access to personnel and supply delivery kit.
Have you carried out a survey to determine the mortality rate that has been reduced since introduction of Mother’s Delivery Kit in your communities of intervention?
Before we go into a community - for instance we are in Katsina state now - we do baseline survey to get data on the current state of things. Before we start training, we conduct pre-evaluation for all birth attendants in order to understand their level of knowledge before and after training. We also do post-evaluation to determine what they have learnt and what they will do differently. The system of accumulating data doesn’t end there. We monitor their knowledge implementation for a month as they are expected to report back in a tracking booklet. So it’s a consistent period of following up to accumulate correct data, because we have to be careful not to generate incorrect data. We are meticulous about the quality of data we collect.
So we do baseline survey to understand the status of things in the community, afterwards we do end-line survey to measure progress at the end of our program.
Can we know the person behind this idea?
In 2011, I lost a close friend at child birth; her death propelled my work in communities. I said to myself,
If someone educated and financially stable to access quality healthcare could die at childbirth, what will be the case for people without means in rural communities?
I took action; I went into a community, first in Ogun state to conduct need assessment. My aim was to bring change for women and children in rural communities. Driven by personal tragedy, I was motivated to change the status. For mother’s delivery kit; in the process of carrying out our work, we had gone into a community in Zamfara state, they brought in a sick baby whose umbilical cord was severed with a rustic blade and he died before we left the community. Understanding that aside from training, there is the need to provide the right sterile supply we started supplying the kit.
SDG week! How does your initiative help in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, with emphasis to Goal 3?
Moving from MDG’s to SDGs ensures total wellbeing of women and children; we try to ensure that ‘every mother has the opportunity to watch her baby grow and that every baby is not denied the chance to live to his/her full potential’, we try to look at it from the angle that economic status or location should never be an excuse for women to die giving birth. We ensure that pregnant women access quality healthcare information, services and supplies from healthcare providers. Looking at these three angles we believe that the wellbeing of women and babies will be well protected under the SDGs.
Your current intervention! What informed your decision in choosing the location?
As a result of the baseline survey carried out in some selected states in Northern Nigeria, we met with health officials here in Katsina, after having previously worked in Zamfara and survey report from the national bureau of statistics. We decided to carry-out our training and interventions in five communities; Bakori, Funtua, Dusinma, Katsina and Kafur.
What is your advice for other young people championing causes for mothers and newborn health?
The power to change things in this country is in the hands of young people (especially in the health sector) and most of us carry our ideas around without taking action, basically giving excuses based on lack of access to money and network.
The truth is, just start, do whatever you can wherever you are and always see challenges as an opportunity to make a difference.