When renovations and supplies modify behaviour
Several health centres have benefited from the China South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund (SSCAF), aimed to revitalize Nigeria’s quest for improved maternal and newborn child health outcomes.
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This article was first published on the UNICEF Nigeria website in 2021.
When two-year old Adamu Mohammed fell ill again with a fever, his mother, Hawawu, 32, wondered whether to return to the same primary health care centre in Komfulata, a community about 20 kilometres outside the city of Gombe, in northeast Nigeria.
“Fever” is the catchall word for malaria, which takes a big toll on children under five here. Malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia are the major killers of children in Gombe State.
Approximately 2 in 5 children under five years reported episodes of fever in the two weeks before the 2018 National Demographic and Health Survey was conducted.
In the last three years, Hawawu has lost three of her eight children - ostensibly to “fever”. She didn’t go to the clinic when her last child fell ill with fever, feeling there was no point and that they wouldn’t be able to help. She used home remedies instead, and her child died.
But with Adamu down with fever again, Hawawu’s neighbour prevailed on her to go to the clinic this time. “She said things have changed. Now they run tests before treating your child and they give you a lot of drugs. She convinced me,” said Hawawu.
So, she went.
Komfulata’s primary health care centre – Hawawu’s local centre - is one of the 10 health centres that benefited from the China South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund (SSCAF), specifically set up to assist countries like Nigeria to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The support aimed to revitalize Nigeria’s quest for improved maternal and newborn child health outcomes in Kwami Local Government Area of Gombe State.
The goal of the project was to significantly contribute to the reduction of maternal, newborn and child mortality and morbidity in Gombe State, and move towards achieving the SDGs through the establishment of an integral primary health care model that can be easily scaled up and replicated.
A strong partnership was key to the success of the project - and Gombe State Government provided this. As part of its own contribution, it renovated three clinics, recruited essential medical personnel for all the 10 clinics and supplied medication for the clinics.
“We have seen improved outcomes for children and families – which is the most important achievement. Now, we need to ensure sustainability and replication of this model across the state, to make a difference in the health outcomes for women and children across Gombe State,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative to Nigeria, at the commissioning of the clinics.
The Ward Development Committees in the communities where the 10 clinics are located are motivated to sustain what this project has achieved. Usman Mohammed Tukur, who heads the committee in Komfulata, is mobilizing community members to contribute small sums of money for minor clinic repairs and is encouraging women in his community to take up services at the clinic.
“We have seen a big increase in pregnant women coming to deliver their babies at the clinic, which is wonderful to see, as it ensures safer deliveries for both the mother and child,” said Usman Mohammed Tukur. “We have moved from 20 per cent to 70 per cent in the number of deliveries taking place at the clinic.”
As for Hawawu, going to the clinic with her little son was a good experience.
“When I arrived at the clinic, I saw a completely renovated building. I saw equipment, I saw drugs - even the nurses appear to be more helpful and friendlier than before. Somehow, deep down inside, I then knew Adamu would recover,” she said.