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
birth attendant.
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 benets 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.
SUCCESS STORY
ENUGU
JULY 2016
Empowering Communities.
Saving Lives.
www.paths2.org | Partnership for Transforming Health Systems IIwww.paths2.org | Partnership for Transforming Health Systems II
32
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The Partnership for Transforming Health Systems Phase Two (PATHS2) was originally a six-year (2008−2014)
development initiative to ensure that Nigeria achieves important health-related Millennium Development Goals.
Programme Implementation was extended to January 2015 in Jigawa, Kaduna and Kano; and July 2016 in Enugu and
Lagos.
Funded by UK aid from the Department for International Development, PATHS2 is working in partnership with the
Government of Nigeria and other stakeholders to improve the planning, financing, and delivery of sustainable health
services to those most in need. In addition to its work at the federal level, the PATHS2 programme has been
implemented in the five states of Enugu, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, and Lagos.
PATHS2 is managed by Abt Associates, in association with Options, Mannion-Daniels, and the Axios Foundation.
This publication has been funded by UKAID from the Department for International Development; however, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the
department’s offical policies. The contents are the responsibility of the Partnership for Transforming Health Systems II (PATHS2).
The heart of the initiative is a social networking strategy,
in which these groups are established to enable women
to support each other emotionally, psychologically and
nancially, while at the same time the groups exert a subtle
pressure to obtain services in the health facility when the
need arises.
PATHS2 has been instrumental in establishing 836 PWSGs in
health facilities and a further 210 in churches across the state.
The programme has supported more than 6,000 pregnant
women. Those groups that meet in the facility have access to
the Ofcer-in-Charge, who ensures accurate medical input to
the discussion, and helps to clarify myths and misconceptions
that are very widespread. The groups that meet in churches
are normally supported by pastors or women’s fellowship
leaders, who visit the groups, pray for the women, and
encourage antenatal care attendance and delivery in the
health facilities.
To help ensure the sustainability of the church-based PWSGs
into the future, PATHS2 has been instrumental in setting up
memoranda of understanding with church leaders. Some
churches have also made these groups into formal units
in the church. The public support of church leaders is also
very inuential in adding encouragement for women to get
services in the health facilities. These facilities are now seeing
a steady stream of pregnant women as the PWSG initiative
bears fruit, saving lives among the people of Enugu.