"I became a nurse to protect pregnant women"

Yelwa Abdulahi works with the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria, FOMWAN, Gombe State Chapter. Read her story.

She has been the Coordinator of MNCH Project in Gombe State since 2009. Before then, she was a civil servant with Gombe State Ministry of Health.

As a young girl, growing up, Yelwa dreamt of becoming a teacher. In this story, she shared what motivated her to become a nurse/midwife to find her fulfillment in life.

"When I was in secondary school in 1971, Form 3, I traveled from Bauchi to Gombe on holiday. My brother’s wife in Gombe was pregnant. One evening, around 9:00pm, she started bleeding but I didn’t know what that meant. It took my brother a long time to get a vehicle to take her to the hospital.

When we eventually got to the hospital, the nurses on duty were asleep. When we woke them, they showed bad behaviour. They didn’t take my brother’s wife in until they saw our uncle, who was also a worker there.

That behaviour irritated me. What if our uncle wasn’t a worker at the hospital? Why would anyone neglect their duty and rather sleep and allow a pregnant woman in distress to suffer?"

That night, I decided that I would become a nurse instead of a teacher. I wanted to care for people. To my great joy, my brother’s wife and her baby survived and they are still alive today. So if my uncle were not there, my brother’s wife would have bled to death.

Yelwa retired in 2016 as a chief nursing officer. She found her motivation early in life to care for pregnant women and newborns, therefore, her involvement as a MamaYe Super Activist was simply natural.

In many cases, many pregnant women suffer various forms of abuse in the hands of healthcare providers. A study on the mistreatment of women during childbirth, conducted in Abuja, Nigeria, explores the level of abuse that pregnant women go through in the hands of healthcare providers.

Mistreatment and disrespect of pregnant women is a global issue, which prompted a campaign to recognise maternal health rights as part of human rights. The campaign, championed by the White Ribbon Alliance, resulted in Respectful Maternity Care Charter: the universal rights of childbearing women. 

As MamaYe joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day of Maternal Health and Rights, the world needs more passoionate people like Yelwa to promote the rights of pregnant women, and to protect them from abuse at health clinics.

There is also the need to promote interpersonal communication and emotional inteligence among healthcare providers to help them improve on their relationship with pregnant women.

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