Saheed Taiwo Lawal was on one of his regular visits to the Isheri Primary Health Centre (his community) one afternoon when a pregnant woman came by. Saheed is not a nurse or a doctor or a midwife, and for that, one would think that he had no role to play in the delivery of the woman’s pregnancy. “The woman came alone,” Saheed said,
we didn’t know where she came from. She was not registered at the facility and nobody came with her and the only thing she came with was the dress that covered her body.
The common situation in many of our health care facilities is that a patient who is not registered in a particular facility may find it very difficult to access care, especially in an emergency. This was a similar situation that the unknown pregnant woman was going to face but for Saheed’s intervention.
After he became a MamaYe Super Activist for maternal and newborn health (MNH), Saheed became a regular visitor at Isheri Primary Health Centre, Alimosho Local Government, Lagos State. The new knowledge that he gained from being a Super Activist, and the MNH cause that he chose to shoulder, helped him form a strong relationship with the health care workers at the facility. So, when the unbooked pregnant woman showed up, Saheed did not have a difficult time to persuade the health workers to take the woman in.
The health care workers attended to her first and helped to deliver her of her pregnancy. Saheed said, “She was delivered of a set of twin girls.”
After the successful delivery, they needed to know who she was. But instead of the woman to resolve the mystery of her identity, she fainted. While trying to resuscitate her, it was decided that she needed to be taken to a general hospital for better attention.
"With the help of a nurse and another attendant, she was taken to Igando General Hospital. I stayed back at the PHC but the information that I got from the nurse was that the hospital was not ready to take her because nobody had her record.
The nurse and the attendant were “detained” just in case anything would happen. On hearing this, I called Dr. Oludara (Dr. Oludara is the Director, Family Health and Nutrition, Lagos State Ministry of Health) and Barrister Ayo Adebusoye (Lagos State Civil Society Organisations representative and another MamaYe Super Activist) and they took up the issue.”
The outcome of the calls that Saheed made totally influenced the status quo. The General Hospital accepted the unknown woman and gave her the treatments that saved her life.
Saheed’s feat indicates the great power to positively influence the improvement of maternal and newborn health in our communities. Instead of sitting by and complaining, we can stand up and act.