Traditional Medicine In Focus: Traditional Birth Attendant in Health Care Delivery System
Today, Wemimo Adewuni and Sheriff Quadri of Morning Crossfire pay attention to Shogunro, a place where pregnant women find second traditional home. This is the work of female journalist, Bunmi Yekini, working with Radio Nigeria and Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism. She joins along with other resource persons to discuss the issue.
It is said that about 14,536 deliveries were reported and about 342 registered traditional birth attendants in Lagos for the year 2015. The traditional medicine board regulates the activities of these traditional birth attendants in Lagos. That includes registration and renewal of licenses. Morning Crossfire takes a look at the role of these birth attendants in maternal mortality.
Bunmi, who prompted the discussion says that for a while now she has been working in the maternal health sector and also with rural women. She discovered that generally, the biggest problem these women face is poverty.
“Especially, poverty is one of the factors driving these women’s challenges. Many of them fend for their families even though they have husbands. But their husbands are peasants, fishermen who do not else but wait to see what the woman has to offer. These women also have unspoken issues. When I started this project in 2007, I discovered that many of them were just there for census purposes. When it comes to basic materials, they don’t have it. Power supply is lacking, the primary healthcare center is also not available to this people. I was in about 20 communities in Lagos and their challenges are the same.”
Dr Bunmi Omosehindemi says that the first issue is to find out if these traditional birth attendants are essential in our society. “When you look at Nigeria and especially the place where she’s talking about; the area is called Makoko. These people have been neglected for so long. Traditional birth attendants are essential because we are in a country of 200 million people where we have only 30 doctors to 100 thousand patients. We have 100 nurses to 100 thousand patients. We have only 89 mid-wives to 100 thousand patients.
“What do you expect those people to be doing? It is when people have been neglected that they think about these traditional birth attendants. Historically, before the advent of hospitals, these are the people that have been providing healthcare for the people. But now people are dying as there are high incidents of infant and maternity mortality. There are not enough doctors and nurses and even the ones we have are leaving the country because of the condition of service.
“What Bunmi has been doing has been done by others. What do we need to do? We have to be innovative in our healthcare service delivery. Today, a lot of people are just copying from the western world. These traditional birth attendants are there, easily accessible, affordable, and acceptable as well.”
Talking about standards, the doctor got furious. “In Makoko go and see how people live there. Go and see whether they have government intervention there. What do you expect those people to do? They try as much as possible to create things for themselves. That is why we are pointing it out that it is good for us to monitor these traditional birth attendants, bring them out, re-train them, so they won’t be hiding in some places.”
Mrs. Adeyinka Olumade Kilani, who is one of the traditional birth attendants, said she’s been there for about ten years. She says their standards are high. “When you enter my own clinic, you will think that you are entering a general hospital. I still run a trado-medical center. All my herbs are branded. Lagos state medicine board ensures that we produce the drug we use for our patients…”
Doctor Bunmi cuts in… “Point of correction madam. You are distorting facts. I was the chairman of Lagos state traditional medicine board. We were the ones doing the registration of practitioners. Before you are accredited you must have been practicing for a while and must have been identified by people. But on the issue of the herbal products, there are two they are licensed. The one that needs to commercialized will have to go through NAFDAC but the one you prepare for your patients in your clinic does not have to be registered by NAFDAC.”
But how can the TBAs be empowered more so they can perform better?
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Achike Chude – Policy, Development Expert
Bunmi Yekini - Radio Nigeria 2017 #FRLP Fellow of @WSoyinkaCentre
Dr. Bunmi Omosehindemi - Chairman, Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board
Mrs. Adeyinka Olumade Kilani - Chief Executive, Olumade Natural Clinic And Maternity Home
Written by Jude Chukwuemeka