Meet midwife on bike is in the race to save lives of babies and expectant mothers (photos)

Meet midwife on bike is in the race to save lives of babies and expectant mothers (photos)

- It is estimated that over 6300 Kenyan mothers die in childbirth every year, one of the highest number in the east Africa region according to World Health Organisation (WHO)

- More than 800 of these deaths take place in Isiolo County. This is mainly attributed to poor infrastructure and shortage of medical facilities and qualified personnel in the region

-The Government of Kenya banned traditional midwifery in 2005, arguing that it was leading to more deaths. But this trained midwife thinks the opposite is true, and here is why

Isiolo County is one of the regions with the highest number of deaths of newborn babies and pregnant mothers in Kenya. But there is hope for future moms and their babies as one professionally trained midwife takes on the challenges to save mothers and babies during birth.

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This Kenyan midwife on BIKE is in the race to save lives of babies and pregnant women (photos)

Traditional birth attendant Afro, Leparua, Isiolo County, Kenya, 2016 Photograph: Nicola Kelly

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The poor infrastructure, shortage of health facilities, some of which are located over 100 kilometres away from the communities they serve, lack of proper medical equipment, and the glaring shortage of physicians are just some of the challenges that expectant mothers face in Isiolo County.

However, the challenges are not going to stand in the way of this brave man when it comes to saving the mother and her baby. They call him Afro.

Afro, a traditional birth attendant (TBA), has been helping Isiolo women to safely deliver their babies. Among his newest patients is Salome.

“I know many women who went into labour and started to walk to the hospital alone. But it is too far to walk with labour pains, so they had to deliver the baby in a bush,” says Salome, who was fortunate to meet Afro. He had just brought her to delivery at a hospital, using a motorbike.

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This Kenyan midwife on BIKE is in the race to save lives of babies and pregnant women (photos)

A Christian Aid Health worker with her motorbike

According to Afro, who works alongside other TBAs, it is always a great honour to deliver new members of the community. This role, he says, gives them (as midwives) status within the communities.His role, he adds, has been made especially easy with the help of motorbike, locally known as piki-piki.

“In the past, I had to deliver the baby at the woman’s home, with no medical knowledge. When there were complications, there was nothing I could do. Now I can bring the mothers here on my piki-piki and take the tiny babies back home when they arrive. So, we still play a significant role as midwives in this country,” says Afro.

Unlike Salome, thousands of women across the country do not have access to proper medical care. Statistics from the World Health Organisation indicate that in 2016 alone, over 6300 women died in childbirth. And out of these deaths, 800 occurred in Isiolo County.

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This Kenyan midwife on BIKE is in the race to save lives of babies and pregnant women (photos)

This Kenyan midwife on BIKE is in the race to save lives of babies and pregnant women (photos)

Lack or shortage of health facilities, coupled with poor infrastructure, means that these women have had to rely on TBAs for generations. The government of Kenya did ban traditional midwifery in 2005, arguing that such practices lead to more deaths of mothers and their babies. But Afro doesn't agree with that position.

"The ban further entrenched high risk practices in many cultures. Most of the TBAs felt abandoned at that time. They felt they had no choice, so they continue to use these natural remedies," says Afro.

He, however, points out that it's very important for the TBAs to get proper training.

"Some midwives give the mother too much of the liquid. Sometimes, the ladies overd*se, start fainting during labour and even lose their babies. Others deliver babies with no protective gloves, thus exposing themselves to diseases such as HIV. It is traditions like this that we must prevent,” says Afro, adding that they no longer recommend that TBAs assist mothers at their home, but rather take them to a health facility.

Meanwhile, as the government looks for ways to address the numerous challenges facing expectant mothers across the country, Afro and his fellow TBAs would love to be equipped with motorbikes and other modes of mobility to facilitate their work and help them save more lives.

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Watch video of traditional midwives in Isiolo assisting a mother to give birth:

Source: Gossip.naija.ng

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