Delivering Safely in Ozalla
Mrs Gift Ede and her baby.
“I used to believe all women should deliver their babies with
a traditional birth attendant,” recalled 28-year-old Gift Ede,
whose home is the very traditional community of Ozalla in
the Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State. Even
though she had experienced prolonged labour and severe
back pains after delivering her second baby, feeling alone,
helpless and scared, she had managed to pull through. When
she became pregnant again soon afterwards in 2015, she was
once again determined to deliver the baby with a traditional
Ozalla has about 1,500 people, and the economy is
built around subsistence farming and petty trading. The
community is close-knit and carries some deeply held
cultural traditions, unfortunately including a strong belief
that women should deliver their children in their own homes
without medical support or with a traditional birth attendant.
So, although Ozalla has a health facility, Gift did not intend
to register when she fell pregnant for the third time. But
in January 2016, after hearing that a support group for
pregnant women had been established in the health facility
at Ozalla a few months before, she decided to visit one of the
meetings—and was so impressed by what she learned that
she signed up for antenatal care.
Gift enjoyed the support group experience of mutual love
and care, and was happy to learn about maternal danger
signs. “We learnt so many things from the pregnant women
support group, such home making, hygiene, local delicacies
and pastry making.” In March 2016, she gave birth to
a healthy baby in the Ozalla health centre. Holding her
newborn, Gift was beaming as she expressed her gratitude
for all that she had learnt and experienced.
“I have learnt the maternal danger signs and benets of ANC
and facility delivery. From my knowledge of the maternal
danger signs I would say that I have been taking a very big
risk with my life.”
“I know better now. No woman should risk her life or that of
her baby.” Since the birth of her third child, Gift has been a
supporter of the support group and an advocate of hospital
delivery in her community.
Pregnant women support groups (PWSGs) were introduced in
2013 by Partnership for Transforming Health Systems Phase
Two (PATHS2), as an innovative approach to increasing the
number of deliveries at health facilities and enrolment into
antenatal care. The aim of this initiative was to make sure
that there was access to maternal, newborn and child health
(MNCH) information for women when they needed it.