David Deakin, Chief Executive of Chasing Zero, shares below about his recent visit to Nigeria where he trained a new team of Mother Buddies. Chasing Zero have seen huge success through it’s project work with women in this country, and so we’re now thrilled to announce that for the first time you can twin a pregnancy with a woman in 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. It is the 10th worst country to be born in, with a towering infant death rate rate which is only shadowed by an even more shocking maternal death rate, marking it as the world’s 5th worst country for a mum to give birth in. Each year well over 40,000 mums still die in childbirth compared to just 63 women in the UK – this represents a quarter of all female deaths in Nigeria.
HOW DO MALAWI AND NIGERIA COMPARE?
Whilst it’s a more developed economy 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 increases the risk of maternal death six times.
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.
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 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 when 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 holistic 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. 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’.
I also met Laraba, who gave birth to her third child in 2016. Through the support of her Mother Buddy she attended antenatal care where she found out 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. She was too poor to have insurance but was determined to restore her business and worked very hard to clean and restore her shop from the fire/smoke damage. Our project has extended normal support to ensure she and her family get back on their feet by providing assistance with a new hairdressing supplies, she is now managing to provide an income sufficient to provide her entire family with two good meals a day!
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. 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.