Welcome to the maiden edition of Social Works Watch™.  

Today we will be opening a discussion on MATERNITY PRACTICES IN GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS IN LAGOS STATE. Please follow us closely. Your responses are very important to us.

We once wrote a letter to two of the leading maternity government hospitals in Lagos State, Island Maternity Hospital and Ayinke House, having received legion of reports, which are not too favourable. The letter stated among other things:

Presently, we are doing a finding on maternity practices in Government Hospitals in Lagos State and we discovered that pregnant women who register for antenatal care with Ayinke House experience the following:

  •  As a prerequisite for registration the spouses of pregnant women are compel to either deposit a pint of blood or pay a certain amount usually between N5,000.00 and N6,000.00 in lieu a pint of blood;
  • Pregnant women spend a whole day at ante-natal session, often times they had to get there as early 6.00AM to ensure being attended to by medical personnel;
  • The unruly attitude of Para-medical personnel toward pregnant women during antenatal, labour periods and post natal;
  •  Nonchalant attitudes of staff toward pregnant women during antenatal, labour periods and postnatal.

We are about to go to the press with our findings, but in the spirit of fair hearing, we want to find out from your good office the basis for the above-mentioned. 

Though, we followed up, we did not get a meaningful responses to our letter.

Please note that this is an on-going process. We will bring you more reports on this important subject. It is no longer news that Nigeria has one of the highest maternal deaths in the world. Beside, according to a report by UNICEF, ‘every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five year olds and 145 women of childbearing age. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world…The deaths of newborn babies in Nigeria represent a quarter of the total number of deaths of children under-five. The majority of these occur within the first week of life, mainly due to complications during pregnancy and delivery reflecting the intimate link between newborn survival and the quality of maternal care.’

The last phrase, ‘quality of maternal care’ catches our attention and for some weeks to come we will beam our searchlight at the level of Social Works Watch™ on this area. We want to ascertain if there is best practice in the quality of maternal care, particularly in Lagos State.  Please note that it is important to do this report because majority of pregnant women in Nigeria cannot afford private hospital. They move between Government Hospitals and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs). We discourage TBAs. But the people may be tempted to resort to them despite their inadequacies if the Government Hospital do not provide quality maternity services to the teeming majority of our people.

Permit us today to share with you the story of a woman, Ibijoke Rachael, who was delivered of a baby at Island Maternity Hospital:

I leave my home (Ojodu) at 5:30pm in the morning to be able to make my antenatal session in Island maternity Lagos Island. Usually I get there about 6:45am and I may be number 45 on the queue.

Taking of vital signs commences around 7:00am. A total of about 120 expectant mothers are present for this exercise every Monday morning. N40.00 is paid at the vital sign stand every week and a N100.00 at the desk before files are retrieved. This is a total of N140.00 per week asides from other medications that may be prescribed.

Registration fee for antenatal session is N5, 000:00, after which the spouse of the expectant mother is told to donate one pint of blood or pay N6, 000:00 which is compulsory.

After vital signs have been taken, we usually wait for doctors to arrive as they are not always readily available.

When the doctors start attending to us they are usually impatient as they in a hurry to be done with us all. Most times student doctors attend to us without proper supervision. Due to this fact, a lot of wrong information, is given to the patients. For example, on a particular antenatal day, one of the student doctors told me after examining me that my baby was not breathing; he repeated the test several times and still insisted on the same report. I didn’t agree with him. I told him, I could feel my baby kicking. So a senior doctor later examined me and said my baby was alive and kicking. As usual the student doctor did not carry out a proper examination. I wonder what would have happened if I had been naïve enough to believe him. I believe that even the panic that could be created by the report that my baby has stoped breathing could lead to a medical condition.

Few weeks to my delivery, I experienced some pain in my abdomen all night. I decided to go the hospital to see the doctor the next day. On getting to the card attendant, she asked why I wanted to see the doctor and I told her, and she said why should I came to disturb them over abdominal pains. I got upset and gave her a piece of my mind. Generally the care givers are very rude and impatient in their disposition to patients.  

On 22nd of September, my Monday antenatal day, I complained to the doctor that I had pains in my abdomen and he said my pregnancy was already over 9 months, and my baby’s head is already down, but to my greatest surprise he told me to go back home, which I did.

The pain was unbearable all through the night, so I returned to the hospital first thing the next morning. On getting the hospital the midwife said it was time to have my baby after paying another sum of money.

I was admitted and went into labour for 7hrs after which I had my baby around 3:15pm who was 3.8kg at birth. I had some tears due to the size of my baby and was moved to an inner room to be stitched. I overheard the nurse saying that the doctor who was to stitch me was ill.  After a while a doctor came in to do the stitching and he was there for a while trying to do it. After he said the tear was too deep and he could not handle it. He advised I should hold on for him to get another doctor and he then left the room. I later found out that he was a student doctor. After waiting for several hours without being attended to, I decided to shout with the little strength left in me as I was already drenched in a pool of my own blood. As I shouted as much as I could, one of the cleaners came in. I begged her to help me call a doctor. Before she left to run the errand, she requested from me beverages. I told her to take it and that she should just help me. I wonder why she should be interested in my beverages before running an official errand for me despite my state.

At about 7:00pm a consultant doctor came in and was alarmed at my state. He asked me a few questions about who had attended to me. When he realized that I couldn’t answer from being worn out, he gave me an injection and I slept off immediately and woke up around 10:00pm. On waking up, I demanded to see my baby, who I had not touched since delivery, but was stopped by the nurses and even insulted. They were not also explaining to me why I could not see my baby. I suspected that they felt I was too weak to carry her. I complained of pains in my leg but was told there was no paracetamol.

When I later saw my baby, she was said to have been diagnosed with jaundice and she had to be put in an incubator. I found that she was in an incubator with another child, who had rashes all over his body. I complained about this and the nurses told me that they had shortage of incubators and there was nothing they could do. Being my first child, I did not know that if I put baby oil on the head of my child, I should not put her in the incubator. That was exactly what I did. By the time I went back to check her, the oil had been heated by the incubation and it was flowing slowly to her eyes. I quickly called a nurse and removed the child from the incubator to clean the baby oil. The response of the nurse was as interesting as it was callous. She said sarcastically, ‘you should not have removed the child now. The oil will only flow into her eyes and she will just go blind.’

There were inadequate nurses caring for the babies. I witnessed the case of a baby, who died because the incubator was off all through the night and the nurses did not know.

I thank God that I left the hospital safely with my baby. It was by His mercies that we were no consumed.

Thank you for joining us today. We will continue next week. Please send your experiences and responses.

Think the Child! Think Today! Think the Future!

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  1. Your comments are daily occurrences in our public hospitals. Our political leaders in government are too busy stealing our commonwealth to be bothered about the state of our public hospitals. Incidentally most of them are alive today because they benefited from the health care of the then government. Callous leaders!

  2. Thank you for visiting my blog and I do not take your comment for grant…I believe that there is light at the end of the seemingly impossible end of the tunnel…All we need to do is to begin to man our areas of influence and as we do that we will become an example for our areas of interest. Hope to see you here again…Do have an INSPIRED day.

  3. Insightful article, some American wives needed to know what to expect when having a baby in Lagos, this gives a pretty good idea.

  4. Hmm, this is appalling! I have heard stories but never got a detailed personal account like this. What can we do to help effect a change? It is so sad. I am sure everyone of us at some point or the other have been victims of government/societal failure. Why do we sit and watch and do nothing? Taiwo thank you for bringing up all these issues.

  5. Good Job Taiwo but First off, I like to take positives from situations( I have been through the two worlds so I speak also from personal experience):
    1. Blood bank donations
    A. Psychology of Paternal bonding and Responsibility-Lagos state govt has impacted this aspect of family value positively by insisting on the husband or the father of the child being a donor to the blood bank. Most men do not know where their wives attend antenatals not to talk about accompanying their partners. This is the real show of responsibility by a father. It can only promote bonding within the family.
    B. HIV and other infectious disease screening- as a social worker and someone that has gone through Ayinke during the birth of our child, I think the Early detection we preacch starts from here. (But Whether apprioprate counselling for the +ve ones is given is a different kettle of fish)
    C. Contribution to social welfare – per adventure the blood donated is not used, it is deposited for use in emergency medical and surgical tables at govt hospitals and sometimes privates that come there to loan pints.Sometime ago I had personally walked up to Lasuth as a willing and free donor having witnessed a night with emergency involving 5 policemen shot by armed robbers while on duty in Lagos. Pre-screened blood was given to them immediately from that same blood bank to at least save their lives even though I was later told that one of them still died due to failed internal organ.

    Taiwo, I think you need a first hand experience to understand how many difficult lifethreatening emergency cases arrive per hour especially at night that require blood transfusion, I am sure you will be more constructive in your criticism afterwards.

    Now the issue of collecting excess money is what I feel the govt must stop. If I donate blood to the bank, I shouldn’t be charged 1500 for screening. It should be free!!!

    I think the naration of the lucky woman should be republished and emphasis placed on quality of care rather than the issue of blood donation. I have witnessed so many neonatal deaths due to poor service attitude. That’s where we shou beam the light. Taiwo, instead of threatening to go to press, why don’t you organise a seminar to enlighten the staff and care givers about the sacredness of life left in their care? I am sure you will get response to such appeal (so many ways to kill a rat) This is one way to give back to society. Do you really think they care about negative press review? Let’s get off our computer keyboards and move to the hospitals, our impact will be better felt. Invite me and I will be part of that kind of action so that when I go to press, I will be justified with facts. I also think the statistics you shared need more clarity becaus the major contributors to that alarming number live outside Lagos – you can prove me wrong

    • I totally agree with you. The care givers need proper education on relating with patients. Some think they are doing you a favour in attending to you forgetting they get paid to do the work.

  6. About 10 years ago when I was pregnant with my first baby, I registered at Ayinke House for antenatal and I remember going through exactly what was described here. At seven months into the pregnancy when I was told to buy the delivery pack at the labour room and I went there, and right there and then I changed my mind about having my baby at the hospital due to the state of the labour room. I saw a pregnant woman labouring in distress and no one was attending to her. I had my baby in a private hospital.

  7. The issue of blood donation should be tackled well. I have seen a case where a woman Was asked to bring hér husband to donate blood. She tôld thèm he wàs not in town,she took hèr elder bro whosé blood wàs taking. But when she delivered she needed blood could you bélieve that they asked the Family of the woman to go and buy blood. Évén though thé woman tôld thèm thrat her Bro donated blood they insistéd that they must buy a new blood. Thèn i asked that the blood that the man donated, what is it meant for?is it not to give the mother when or if the needs Arise during or after delivery? What if Thérè is an émergence needs of blood for the mother during or after birth and they dont have are blood group at the blood bank. What would be the Fàte of the woman?the blood that wàs donated for emergency purpose for would have been used for another person at her own detriment

  8. hmmmmm, what can I say. It is the fear of developing complications and being referred to a General Hospital thereafter, that makes women register at a General Hospital. I speak from experience. Only God can help us, pregnant women.

  9. hello Taiwo, thanks for this post.
    i am in my 3rd trimester and i have been asking around for a good hospital to give birth to in Nigeria. this is my first pregnancy and though i have been attending antenatal, i do not want to give birth in any of the hospitals;partly due to the state of the theatre i saw when i had a lump removed in my breast at 13weeks…the theatre was BARE with just a bed and an oxygen cylinder. I totally FREAKED out and this is a hospital that says it specializes in mothers and babies. i also have the option of visiting my sister in SA and i was thinking atleast their medical care will be better than what i can find here especially as the cost of delivering in private hospitals here in Nigeria is astronomical.

    • Your point are very salient…I believe that if one has the opportunity to deliver outside the country it should be considered. I think the South African option should be considered in this matter. May God give you direction in taking a final decision and grant you safe delivery wherever you are delivering your baby in Jesus name.

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