August 26

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This is changing me… :)

Two months ago today, I became a PULSE Abuja CHAI-rians (I arrived in Abuja for my assignment) – how time flies!!

A lot has happened since my last post.… but I will be focusing on my recent field trip in this blog.

As I was preparing for this assignment and the PULSE mission statement of ‘change communities’, ‘change GSK’ and ‘change you’ were being communicated to us during the orientation sessions. In my mind, I was like ‘change me”– this might not really be one that I will have a lot to talk about; more so I know the country that I have been posted to. But little did I know that even though I am a Nigerian descent and I understand Yoruba which is 1 of the 3 main languages in Nigeria; but I really don’t understand the culture as much as I thought.

A brief summary of the project: It is a postpartum family planning project. The aim of the project is to provide women the choice of more effective contraceptive methods by increasing access to the long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) such intrauterine devices (IUD) commonly known as the coil and implants (inserted under the skin). The Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a particularly cost-effective method and are the longest acting reversible contraceptive available, protecting against pregnancy for up to 12 years. Expanding access to these long acting contraceptives at the postpartum period will be effective in helping to reduce unintended pregnancies and any associated negative health outcomes. Some of my objectives in helping to deliver this project are: assisting with the piloting of the baseline assessment questionnaire in the health facilities, re-designing the client work flow in the health facilities, developing handbook and training materials for the traditional birth attendants (TBA) and developing relevant job aids, information education communication (IEC) items

So for the past 3 weeks I have been out in the field with other people working on administering the baseline assessment questionnaire in about 441 health care facilities in Kaduna state (one of the focal states). For the duration of this field visit, I was paired with the local consultant (LEC) in charge of a local government area (something like a borough).

administering questionnaires

So for the past 3 weeks I have been out in the field with other people working on administering the baseline assessment questionnaires in about 441 health care facilities in Kaduna state (one of the focal states for this PPIUD program). I was paired with the local consultant (LEC) in charge of a local government area (something like a borough).
My typical day was: arrive at the Kaduna CHAI office at about 8am – attend a debriefing/planning session with the team. Head out to the field with the driver and LEC – we drive about 45 minutes to get to the scheduled LGA, this is usually a smooth ride. But we are then faced with locating the different healthcare facilities, which is usually way out in the rural areas –>> then the bumpy ride begins because for most of the journey: we have to drive through narrow un-tarred /dusty roads, bad terrain (bump, potholes, pool of water). We also have to be careful to avoid the different food products which have been left on the road to dry out. We sometimes have to avoid run over herd of cattle/goats walking on the road. No access to internet network or phone service. So we have to keep asking for direction. The people are always very helpful even though they have been out in the farm as early as daybreak. I was told they are always excited to welcome visitor to their village. But a few times, we were directed the wrong way and we only realized after driving for a while in the wrong direction on some of these bumpy terrains… haa:).But not funny at the time

road to facility

Temi taking selfie while guys are trying to figure out the road:)

… After driving for an hour plus on the bumpy road – we get to some of these healthcare facilities and they are closed.

closed facilities The people in the community tell us the healthcare worker has not been seen in more than a week. When we inquire from the person in charge of the area, we are told that some workers are not available because they live far away and have no means to get to the facility because their salary haven’t been paid in more than 6 months… 😦

… And some facilities are opened but no services are being provided because of the state of the infrastructure. They are so run down with broken windows, roof down, waterlogged room due to rain etc.

run down facility

We are told it is the responsibility of the government to repair these facilities but there are no funds available for this… 😦

… And some facilities are functional but not enough space – all maternal and neonatal health (MNH) services (antenatal care/immunization/postnatal/family planning) are provided in one room. Hence, these services have to be provided on different days in order to meet the needs of the people in the community….:(

…And some facilities are functional, have just enough space for the services. But don’t seem to have enough people attend the various session. We are made to understand that attending a clinic session  in some of these areas are sometimes seen as a stigma. Also, most women prefer to go the local way and deliver their babies at home.

… And some facilities are functional, there is just enough space for the services. But in addition to providing healthcare services to the community, they are also training some young girls on the basic healthcare .:)

training young girls

picture with LEC, young trainees and their trainer

The most memorable part of my experience was the opportunity of holding a baby ‘yaro’ in one of the facilities we visited -(yaro means boy in Hausa)

baby yaroThe mother was so friendly and she was all smiles when I asked if it was OK to hold the baby. How I wish I could take the baby with me!… haa:)

As I mentioned earlier about changing me – my experience on this field trip has had a tremendous effect on me. I was actually discussing with a friend the other day that I think I will be re-ordering my priorities. I want to start redirecting some of the resources I use to buy those matching color shoes & tops to nonprofit organizations (like save the children, Oxfam etc); who can help to direct these funds to good use on my behalf…:)

This song by Michael W Smith “Changing me, changing you” has been my jam lately…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouTgX9hcwk4

This experience is definitely changing me… 🙂

Thanks to GSK for this awesome opportunity!!!