Welcome to Social Works Watch™ (SW2) this week. We were due to be with you yesterday, but we were thwarted by many unforeseen circumstances. We are here today and I believe it is better late than never.

Today, I have a guest, who is here to share with us her experience at Gbagada General Hospital. Welcome with me today Ms. Lillian Njoku:

On 25th January 2013, my pregnant sister, called me at about 3:55pm. She was frantic on the phone and she wanted me to proceed home immediately. I rushed to the house. On sighting me, she said to me, “I am seeing blood” Blood! I was disturbed. I know about water breaking when a woman is due for delivery but I have not heard of blood before that day. I believe also that in most cases blood is attributed to miscarriage. I however felt that her due date being few days a away, the pregnancy was too advance to be lost. I did not have too much time to debate all these in my mind, as I do here now, I needed to get her to safety. I needed speed. There was no other place to go except Gbagada General Hospital where she registered and has been attending her antenatal faithfully. We proceeded there pronto.

We got to the hospital, the nurse/matron confirmed it was labour and asked me to get her things in preparation for the arrival of the baby. She was admitted into the ward, placed on drip. The next morning, I asked the doctors what was happening as she was not having any contraction. They assured me there was no problem. They further informed me that “labour happens in stages.” Believing, my sister was in the safe hands of professionals, I decided to rest pn their counsel.

Sunday was third day since my sister was admitted into the hospital, yet she was not having any form of contraction. But it was business as usual on the side of the doctors. They kept prescribing drugs for us to buy.  

The fourth day, Monday, we discussed our concerns with the doctors who have be coming and going in turns.  Our concern was that there was no new development in my sister’s case. It was not obvious she was in labour. All that the doctors had to say was that they were waiting for the water to break. Later that day the water broke; there was still no contraction. At this point my sister became very concerned and expressed same to the doctor on duty. To the foregoing concern, the doctor responded, ‘no problem another water will still break. Madam you are not ready when you are, nobody will tell you.’ Though, the doctor’s advice sounded comforting, I was in no way comfortable. In fact, I was completely uncomfortable with what I considered to be the nonchalant attitude of the medical personnel at the hospital. This kind of attitude, I believe was not in conformity with the general information we got that Gbagada General Hospital was a better place for delivery of babies when we made an enquiry as to what hospital to register my sister for antenatal.

Early hours of Tuesday, which was the fifth day, another water broke, yet there was no contraction. At this point we were all wondering why no contraction. From our layman perspective, we wondered why the doctors are not considering opening her up to bring out the baby.  

Her husband was worried as well and expressed same to the doctors. To my amazement, observation and suggestion irritate the doctors. They would ask egoistically, “are you the one to tell us what to do?” Then at about 10am on Tuesday, the fifth day, the female doctor on duty asked her to enter the delivery room and assured her that the baby must come out today. At this point, my sister raised an alarm that she was not feeling the baby’s movement as strong as she used to. Yet they did not pay attention to her observation. It was shocking that this critical observation would not alter their course of action.

My sister was later taken to the delivery room, where she was abandoned for a while. Another thing that shocked me was that there was not coordination in the doctors’ discharge of their responsibilities. They were in short, not working as a team, seeking to achieve a common goal or set of goals. For example, when my sister lied idly unattended to in the delivery room, one doctor would come in and asked what she was doing in the delivery room and instructed her to go back to the general ward as she was not ready to deliver. Another one would come with a different instruction entirely, asking her to stay in the labour room.  We were worried about my sister and the level of confusion, which was palpable in the air.

Towards the afternoon on the fifth day, they decided to induce her. She went into forced labour which lasted for about four hours. That did not work and the time was about 4PM. At that point, they now decided to go for a Caesarean section.

For reasons unknown to us, it took another, 6 hours before the Caesarean section operation was carried out. When the baby was brought out, his heart was beating but no breath as a result of stress from prolonged labour. The pediatrician who tried to save the baby asked, “for how long was this woman in labour?” When she was told that she was in labour for 5 days and few hours, she was palpably in shock. Same was the reaction of a matron, who rushed out and asked same question.

All they did to save the baby was in vain as his heart finally stopped beating latter. Then the gynecologist assigned to my sister walked pass us without a word and went down to his ward to sleep. It was the pediatrician and the matron that came to inform us about the death of the baby and expressed their sympathy.

Back at the ward, I raised my voice and challenged the nurses to explain what happened to the child. To my challenge, the nurses replied, without an iota of remorse, “don’t start what you cannot finish.” The insensitive reaction of the nurses angered me, yet, I felt helpless.  Nobody volunteered to explain to us what happened and why. It took insistence from me and my brother-in-law for one female doctor to try explaining that they did not know why things turned out the way it did. I don’t like it when people try to mystify their obvious negligence. Anyway it took the intervention of the female doctor upon the insistence of my brother-in-law to get the gynecologist assigned to my siste to wake up from sleep and make his own attempt to answer our questions. All he kept on saying was that he was sorry. They asked us to find comfort in the other kids and trust God to bring another one.

I welcome you comments on this story. Thank you and have an INSPIRED Day.

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  1. Hmm! Let me start by thanking God for the life of your sister. While l empathise with you for the death of the baby, suffice to say that it might have being worse.
    I’m sure you would have heard of several cases of deaths during labour in Nigeria hospitals. This scenery is just one of the numerous cases of negligence and drama that led to the several cases of mortality. It’s is so sad and disturbing to know that so many death situations in Nigeria is are man-made. Many of them could have been averted.
    Nigeria as a nation needs serious help. There is no sector that hasn’t got a serious problem. The health sector is just one of the many. We only have God to cry out to….
    Take solace in the spared life of your sister. There is coming a new dawn to our great Nation!

  2. Thanks so much for this. Each time I read a piece like this, I remember some lines I wrote sometimelast year. It pains me that we blame many things on the devil and soemtimes insult God by claiming that He allowed it. There is a gang up to decimate the furture of this nation.The system is terribly sick and the state is on permanent vacation! See the lines:

    One is down again!
    Long before their time;
    one by one they are removed:
    severally and collectively
    quack birth mats,
    polio’s fangs, robbers’ bullets,
    deadly cables, floods,
    religious bigotry,
    rape and torture
    brandish their machetes
    and cut them down.
    Even AIDS is not halted by aids!
    God’s Generals; assigned for 2053
    cannot wait to see their time
    And then evil geniuses the nation will lead
    To bell the cat and stop this rage
    who will?

    Peju Osoba
    Abeokuta, March 13, 2013

    Thanks for keeping watch!!!

  3. Wow! Vintage Dr. (Mrs.) Osoba…Thank you for visiting…Your decision to share is not taken for granted…I am persuaded that now is our salvation nearer than we first believed…Do have an INSPIRED day dear sister.Shalom!

  4. Thank you Barrister, for keeping watch. Its only appalling that a few of us want to clean up the mess from all of us. I believe that the change we seek is for all of us to keep watch. Until all of us become responsible for the least of us the efforts of some of us might be adjudged or labeled insufficient. This is a note of warning to all of us to beware of us. Can we sue the hospital or probably take laws into our hands. I think we deserve to know who we pay to give us service. I suggest an overhaul of the public. Can we start afresh it’s not as difficult as it seems. Let’s promote and start the change we seek one sector at a time. God bless your sister and please ensure she get proper medical attention and counseling. God bless us all.

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