A New Beginning in Nigeria!

David Deakin, Chief Executive of Chasing Zero, shares about his recent visit to Nigeria where he trained a new team of Mother Buddies. Chasing Zero have seen the huge impact it’s project work with women here has already had. That’s why for the first time you can now be ‘twinned’ with a woman in Nigeria!

WHY NIGERIA?

With a growing population of 187 milllion people, Nigeria is the 7th largest country in the world. Whilst Nigeria is a middle income country, it has some of the world’s worst health statistics:

  • With a huge neonatal death rate, it is the 10th worst country to be born in.
  • It’s maternal mortality rate marks it as the world’s 5th worst country to give birth in.
  • Each year over 50,000 mums still die in childbirth compared to just 63 women in the UK; that means Nigeria is losing 145 women every day.

HOW DO MALAWI AND NIGERIA COMPARE?

Whilst it’s economy is more developed, Nigeria has been much slower in addressing healthcare issues such as HIV than poorer countries, such as Malawi. This causes a huge problem for expectant parents, not only because of the risks of AIDS, but living with HIV also makes childbirth six times riskier.

Another difference from Malawi is the religious tension experienced in the central belt of Nigeria. These states are where the majority Muslim north and the majority Christian south meet in the middle of the country, which gives rise to both religious and tribal tensions. Pregnancy Twinning operates irrespective of religion across this divide working in three central states, Plateau, Benue and Kaduna.

The North/South divide. Map by History Shadow.

MEET THE MUMS

The programme helps those who are most vulnerable to risk of maternal death and continues to provide support after birth. On my recent visit to Nigeria, two families whom I met particularly impacted me, they are representative of the type of mothers that Pregnancy Twinning is supporting.

I met Laraba, who was pregnant with her third child in 2016. Through the support of her Mother Buddy she attended antenatal care where she received some life-changing news. She was living with HIV.

Thankfully, by following all of the recommendations and accessing antiretroviral treatment she gave birth to a baby girl, HIV negative!

Laraba earned an income from a hairdressing business but when a hairdryer caught fire and her shop/home almost burned down she was left with no source of income; too poor to have any insurance. More life-changing news.

For most people this would have given up. But not Labara,

She summoned the energy and became determined to restore her business despite only recently having given birth. she worked very hard to clean and restore her shop from the fire/smoke damage. Our project has extended our support to ensure she and her family get back on their feet by providing assistance with a new hairdressing supplies.

She is now providing enough income to feed her entire family with two good meals a day!

Laraba with her Mother Buddy (right), who advised her throughout pregnancy then helped to restore her salon.

I also met Esther who now is spending almost all of her time bringing up her 2 children and nursing her husband who was knocked off his bicycle by a car last year whilst she was pregnant.

He now has an irreversible spinal break injury and is paralyzed from the waist down. Esther, was referred to us during this pregnancy and whilst receiving supported she received a second blow. She was HIV positive.

Her Mother Buddy helped her to access the antiretroviral treatment she needed to keep herself and her unborn child healthy. She had a difficult birth but through the support of her Mother Buddy, she gave birth to a baby boy who is free of HIV!

In Nigeria there is no safety net of social security or carers/disability allowance so Ether is now living a very difficult life nursing her husband and young children. We’ve supported her to work part-time as a market trader selling vegetables at a profit which keeps the family from starving.

Despite all of these challenges Esther remains cheerful, a perfect example of the resilience shown by so many of our Pregnancy Twinning ‘twins’.

Esther’s characteristic smile, demonstrating the resilience of our Pregnancy Twins.

A BETTER FUTURE FOR EVERYONE

These families represent for me the challenge of living in Nigeria.

“Although a middle-income country, the majority of the population are as poor as those living in Malawi. Life is harsh, and the healthcare system seems to operate more as a financial transaction system rather than as compassionate, social care.” — David Deakin

The level of maternal and infant care is as poor as Malawi — with a 90 times higher risk of dying in childbirth compared to the UK. There are no safety nets and that is why closing this gap by funding this project is so vital.

Pregnancy Twinning is a wonderful way in which you can support such women and their families to not just save lives in childbirth, but also to ensure that they enjoy a better future, supporting themselves.

Sponsor a Nigerian or Malawian woman through pregnancy and beyond today and be part of rewriting the future of her entire family.

If you were moved by what you read, please hit the green ‘Recommend’ button below so that other might stumble upon Labara and Esther’s stories too.

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