Fatahiya Yakuba, Community Health Nurse Kpasenkpe Health Center West Mamprusi District, Northern Ghana
My name is Fatahiya Yakuba, and I am a community health nurse at the Kpasenkpe Health Center in West Mamprusi District in Northern Ghana. I have worked here for two years, longer than any of my colleagues, and there have been long stretches, sometimes for months, where I was the only nurse here at the clinic. During that time and the years leading up to it, many people in the community lost faith in the clinic, and preferred traveling to a hospital 40 km away.
We have more staff now, but one of our biggest challenges is the state of the facility. The building is so bad. When it’s raining, the place gets flooded. We have solar power, but it’s only enough electricity for the refrigerator and some lights.
When they built this clinic, they built a latrine, but it is not in good condition. It’s broken down. So we don’t have any toilet facilities. We have no water here, so we send the cleaner to carry water from the borehole, or we do it ourselves. We don’t have beds. When people come and we want to keep them for observation they have to lie on the floor. They spread their cloths and lie on the floor.
The main health problems in this region here are malaria and diarrhea. Hypertension is also a problem: Most of our aged, when they come, they are hypertensive.
Another big problem is transportation. This health facility covers 16 communities, and many of them are not near, and during the rains some of them are completely cut off. The roads are very bad. It can take two hours on a motorbike to get here from some of our communities. It is especially risky for pregnant women. If a woman is in labor and she is on a motorbike to come to the health center, it’s dangerous, because the road is not good. The way the moto shakes the woman, even if she is coming for antenatal services, she can deliver prematurely.
We don’t have a midwife at the health center, and as community health nurses we only do deliveries in an emergency. Under normal circumstances, we refer them to the hospital, which is far away. So many women prefer to deliver at home, and home delivery is very risky, and can lead to excessive bleeding, eclampsia, and infections.
There was one case where a woman was in labor for two days, and instead of coming to the health center–they stayed at home. It was only on the third day they decided it best to get medical help but she was too weak and couldn’t make the trip to the clinic. Her family members had to come here to call us to go there. We were able to send an ambulance, but unfortunately the baby died during transit. It is sad but we believe that if the family had come early on during labor, the baby might have survived.
Mothers often have to ride their bicycles with sick children many kilometers to get to this place. And so you can see if the child is sick and weak, and you have to ride a bicycle with the child in this heat, you can see how he will get sicker and weaker.
This is a common problem here and throughout the region. Roads are in poor condition, there are very few clinics to serve the population, and facilities, medicine and staff are lacking. But we believe these problems are solvable and improvements, though slow, are happening each day. We hope they will continue.
Featuring contributions from African citizens who are living in communities affected by extreme poverty, ONE’s African Voices series will follow their progress to give a better understanding of the day-to-day challenges they face and also to track changes that occur over time. Find out more at one.org/africanvoices.
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