In February 2016, I wrote a story on how Nadia, a 300 level student of Biochemistry at Bauchi State University, who was on internship at the General Hospital, Azare, purchased and donated a generator to the hospital’s laboratory to enhance its smooth operation, and also to enable her have the best of her training time.
This is February 2017 and I’m both surprised and excited that I am writing again a similar story, a year later.
Just like Nadia, the students were not happy that the facility's laboratory could not handle tests because of poor electricity supply. Many pregnant women needed exams, and the generator Nadia has helped to get would be overworked if it was run for too long hours.
The next best option was to get another generator, like having substitute players on the bench in a football game.
Before that idea was hatched, the MamaYe Super Activists secretary Ahmad Sanni, had been in touch with the students to tell them about activism for maternal and newborn health improvement, and how individual actions were important to improving the situation of pregnant women and newborns.
After Ahmad spoke to them, the students realised that they could take action, and they had an opportunity right there, at the laboratory where they encounter pregnant women on daily basis. This was when the idea of buying a new generator was hatched.
Salis, who volunteered to speak on behalf of the students, expressed dismay over the situation that pregnant women faced at the hospital because of lack of electricity. Buying an additional generator was in their best interest as an action to ensure that pregnant women had access to care instead of referring them to somewhere far and expensive.
This was a great decision as they have further helped the hospital to cut many delays that pregnant women may face while trying to access care. This also means that in the long run, the rate at which a pregnant woman would survive giving birth would increase.
Ibrahim Abdullahi, the medical lab technician said that the additional generator was a sensible action and useful equipment, as it meant that the 2 generators would last longer because each one would not be overused. Dr Abdullahi Aliago, the Medical Officer in charge of the hospital, welcomed the idea and hoped for more people to take similar actions for the hospital, as the hospital wasn’t even getting diesel to power their high capacity generator.
This is the same hospital where a midwife is spending her own money to provide hand gloves and blood bags to encourage pregnant women to demand for quality of care to the hospitals where their babies will be delivered. Whether it's individuals like Hasana, or civil society organisations whose story we captured here, everybody has a role to play to improve maternal and newborn health. Things will change but the change begins with our actions.