Father’s day Blog

Wednesday 5 March 2014

By Hadiza Aminu

In Nigeria, more than 1 million children die each year before they reach the age of five. The country has one of the worst child mortality rates in the world and more than 24% of those that die are newborn babies.

6 women in Nigeria die every hour from pregnancy related complications like hemorrhage, anemia and infections, giving Nigeria up to a total of over 50,000 maternal deaths per annum. (which can all be avoided with adequate health care at delivery).

But these overall rates don’t reflect rich /poor disparity. In Nigeria, mothers and children from the poorest of families have more than twice a higher risk of dying as those born into richer homes.

This; perhaps is why Nigeria has been identified as one of five premier countries to rapidly and massively reduce maternal newborn and child mortality rates asscientific evidence has shown that these deaths could be prevented if appropriate actions are taken by EVERY ONE of us.

I met Suhaibu during a field trip to villages in Northern Nigeria. He is a respected religious leader in Jibia and also a Coranic school teacher who teaches children how to read and write in Arabic through study of the Quran. He lost his wife and baby during birth and despite his faith, Suhaibu confesses being deeply affected by the experience.  He lives with and takes care of his two male children but has to travel for 1 hour every day and back to see his only daughter, who lives with his late wive’s sister in Katsina. Despite abject poverty, lack of infrastructures and other harsh conditions, Suhaibu tries his best to take good care of his family.

Suhaibu’s story

“My late wife was in labour. By practice and tradition I wrote out parts of the holy Quran, washed it off and gave her the water to drink, so as to ease the delivery. She gave birth quickly, but to a dead baby. Shortly after the delivery, she started bleeding. Meanwhile, we washed the baby and buried him. On my way back from the cemetery, somebody came to tell me that I was urgently needed at home. I rushed back home and found that my wife bleeding massively. I carried her to the hospital. When we reached the hospital the doctor examined her and said that her veins were collapsed because of the excessive bleeding. During the process of trying to give her a blood transfusion, she gave up and passed away. She was 35 years.

“Even on the day she died, my wife seemed healthy. She even cooked for us. One wouldn’t imagine that she would die that day. She often had malaria during her pregnancy, but she used to get better after a while. Sometimes I bought drugs from the pharmacist nearby and gave them to her. She didn’t go to the hospital for check-ups or ante natal but this was the case for all her previous deliveries, she was assisted by her aunt, for the last delivery.

This is my story. I’ve lost my wife and my baby on the same day. Even though this happened ten weeks ago but I’m still deeply affected. She has left me with three children. The eldest is 12 and the youngest is two. The two boys are with me and I am looking after them. The girl is with her mother’s sister in Katsina and I try to see her everyday to make sure she is ok. That’s the way we’re managing life.”

Interview conducted by Amadou MBODJ and Hadiza Aminu during a RCO assignment to Nigeria in October 2009

In Nigeria, Save the Children is providing support to basic healthcare systems and protecting children from abuse and exploitation in twelve states. By developing strong children driven projects and effective strategies with networks of partners, we are showing that positive change can be achieved in Nigeria.