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Nigeria: The Need For Mobile Clinics

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What if we can disrupt the healthcare delivery services in Nigeria?

Access to primary healthcare has in a long time been a huge challenge in our rural communities and in a significant number of our urban communities.

Also, part of the reasons doctors and healthcare workers are refusing to relocate to the rural communities is due to lack of basic social services that can be otherwise found in the cities. Mobile network service providers and their agents have for a long time, devised a means of having a mobile shop in the form of buses to penetrate the rural communities. They leverage on the weekly village markets to drive down and make sales on big market days (trade fairs). In other words, they follow the people. They provide services such as; SIM sales, SIM registration and swapping, airtime sales, and other customer care services.

The financial sector has also, to a certain degree, being disrupting the banking services through money agents such that we have kiosks that offer services such as cash deposit/withdrawal, funds transfers, bills payments, etc within our communities.

When the actors in the health sector replicate such services (businesses and governments), we would see improvements in our health services at an exponential rate.

Building and maintaining primary healthcare clinics in the villages require large resources (financial & human), however, this can be easily implemented as a short, medium and long term solution to healthcare delivery service in Nigeria and beyond.

The mobile clinic can offer services such as individual vital checks, antenatal sessions, malaria and typhoid tests, preliminary diagnostics and provide basic medication to patients, vaccinations etc. That way; minor illnesses can be prevented from escalation through early detection, the need to visit the cities for medical care will be reduced and in turn, the need to visit hospitals will then be only for serious illnesses and surgeries. Therefore, the hospitals will not be overstretched and the doctors will not be exhausted. All that needs to be done is a feasibility study to ascertain a more realistic approach.

If there is way doctors can travel to these areas with their mobile clinics, a larger part of the people in these communities will have access to primary healthcare which will overall improve the quality of our lives as we know it.

It may not be the perfect solution, but it is a start!

By Engr Yusuf ABBA-KYARI Kura. MNSE, FIMC

He writes about his life experiences with Technology, People and Businesses.
He can be reached through
yusufkyari@gmail.com
WhatsApp:+23408037182369
LinkedIn: Yusuf Abba-Kyari

Health

Things You Might Not Know About Postpartum Depression

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“It has been 8 months since I gave birth to my third child Chimamanda. Unlike my other two children, I didn’t feel any love or attachment towards her right from the day I pushed her out. When I gave birth to my first child I couldn’t contain my joy. It felt like all my prayers had been answered. I was a little sad when I gave birth to my second child because I wanted a girl, but that sadness was over in less than a few hours, and I became super excited.

However, in the case of my third birth, it is the reverse. I just can’t bring myself to love her. Her cries annoy me. I just hate her. I feel bad sometimes because I’ve always wanted a girl child. I’ve always wanted someone I’ll wear matching outfits with, but right now, I wish I didn’t have her. My parents and family members said it was just a phase which was going to pass, but it has been 8 months now and this phase hasn’t passed. How long will this phase last?” – Mrs Ngozi (33 years old)

Stories like Mrs Ngozi’s are an example of Postpartum Depression. It is a mental illness characterized by severe mood swings, feelings of hopelessness, overwhelming sadness and inability to love and care for a baby and oneself. It could happen to anyone.

A lot of people are of the belief that postpartum depression happens only to first time moms. That’s not true in all cases. Sometimes, it is first time moms, sometimes a mother who has had two or even five kids.

Some indicators (but not limited to) of postpartum depression include:

  • Irritability
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • Too much sleep or inability to sleep
  • Eating too much or inability to eat
  • Severe mood swings
  • Loss of interest in things you love
  • Loss of interest in your baby
  • Inability to take care of yourself or your baby
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Thoughts of hurting your baby or ending its life

Often times, postpartum depression is mistaken for baby blues. Baby blues usually lasts for a few weeks after child birth, postpartum depression last longer. Postpartum depression is more severe than baby blues.

Here is a story of someone experiencing baby blues:

“When I gave birth to him (Jason, her first child) I didn’t love him at first sight. You know how mothers are so excited to see their babies, especially their first children, my case was different. My mother thought maybe it was because this was my first child and I hadn’t experienced childbirth before.

For days after my delivery, I found it difficult to hold or breastfeed him. I was always sad. I was so overwhelmed with everything around me. My body had changed so much and I was worried I wouldn’t get my old body back. I felt I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t deserve him I hated myself and my baby.

I am grateful my parents and husband were so supportive. Gradually, things started getting better and in a few weeks I was back to how I used to be. I began to love my son, I am still loving him.” – Catherine (28 years old).

Baby blues is characterised by:

1. Mood swings (one minute you are so happy and excited and you feel you are doing a great job as a new mom and the best minute you are sad, angry and feel like you aren’t doing so much).
2. Eating too much or inability to eat as much as you used to.
3. Irritability.
4. Anxiety.

Once a person experiences baby blues, and it lingers, it is important for them to speak to someone.

If post-partum depression is left unchecked, it can lead to other severe mental illnesses. There is no known cause of postpartum depression, but hormonal changes, genetics or history of mood disorders or depression are linked to postpartum depression. It can be treated by therapy with a professional and/or medication.

Around the world, millions of women suffer from postpartum depression and baby blues, due to the stigma surrounding this mental illness, they continue to suffer in silence. Those who have been brave enough to open up are labelled wicked, some tagged crazy or abnormal, and deemed incapable for not being able to love a child they birth.

I appreciate the Omugwo system (English meaning?) practised mostly in the Eastern part of Nigeria, whereby the mother of the lady or her mother-in-law (and where neither mother is available or alive, a close family member) lives with the new mom for a period of 3 months (or more), to help take care of the new mom and new baby. This helps to take away some of the burden of caring for a baby from the mother for until she is able to care for her baby and herself.

As an individual, it is important to encourage anyone who you know may be in this situation. They may not even be able to speak about it, which is why you have to be observant, so you can be able to help or ask how you can help.

If someone opens up to you about their situation post birth, please, don’t neglect or leave them to their fate because they are ‘mothers’ assume they all have the natural instinct to love a child.

I hope that anyone who is going through this situation and reading this finds light, and courage to speak about it and more importantly find the proper help they need.

By Ruth Amarachi Okechukwu

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Health

Hey people, let’s talk about exfoliation

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What is exfoliation?
Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, to improve its appearance. We all have dead skin cells on our bodies because we are growing and our skin is constantly repairing and replacing itself. I like to think of it as getting rid of zombie skin!

The term ‘exfoliation’ sounds rather technical, believe me- It has absolutely everything to do with beauty and skincare.

Why should you exfoliate your skin?
So there’s something called ‘cell rejuvenation’.

Cell rejuvenation is the process whereby the skin tries to repair itself by replacing damaged cells and tissues. As we get older, the process starts to slow down hence your dead skin cells may not be replaced as often as it should.

Exfoliation is necessary to remove dead skin cells that clog the pores. You should know that loading skincare products will have a limited effect on old dead skin. It also helps to maintain clean and healthy skin.

You also need to understand your skin type. The good news is that exfoliation is for all skin types. Pretty much everyone should consider making exfoliation a weekly part of their skincare routine. If you have oily skin, exfoliating can help clear your pores of excess oil build-up. As for dry skin, it can help remove flaky old skin cells on the surface of your skin and regular exfoliation can also help mature skin look less dull.

Let’s talk about how we should exfoliate
1. If you have a little change in the bank, you can consider going for a ‘microdermabrasion’ treatment. Microdermabrasion treatments use instruments to gently scrub against the skin. This type of skin rejuvenation is used to treat serious skin problems and scarring. I like to call it the plastic surgery of exfoliation. Don’t like the sound of that?

2. You can also visit a good spa and get a full-body scrub. Quite relaxing, don’t you think?

3. If you are spendthrift like me but still want the good things of life; I can gladly inform you that you can exfoliate your skin right in the comfort of your home. You just need the right products.

To get the right products, you first have to know what type of exfoliation you will like to do. We have both physical and chemical exfoliation. Physical exfoliation involves the use of scrubs, brushes, sponges and even small grains to exfoliate. Chemical exfoliation is where we use masks and peels. Both techniques are straight forward techniques.

For the naturalists, no fancy product is needed. You can use homemade products and very natural products around you. Quite a deal, don’t you think?

Exfoliation is compulsory. Please note that for sensitive skin types, it is best to discuss skincare regiments with your dermatologist. Also, try not to exfoliate and scrub the skin excessively. That might cause skin irritation.
Always take care of your skin- it’s the best accessory you’ve got.

By Nene Oro

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Health

Menstruation: Give free sanitary pads instead of free condoms

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“Sex is a choice, menstruation isn’t. Give free pads instead of free condoms”.

The aforementioned statement was seen on Blessing Michael’s placard during a Girl Child Campaign on the proper usage of sanitary pad by primary and secondary school’s girls among whom are those at their puberty stage and those battling with ‘strange blood’ scaring their pants.

Most teenagers have for one reason or the other never talked to their mothers about their menarche (first period) but chose to seek counsel from their schoolmates who also are confused about the sanitation of their vaginas and the adequate use of sanitary pads.

One research shows that in most African countries including Nigeria, most girls who see their period for the first time use either piece of rag, wrapper or tissue paper especially those from poor background.

A lot of girls cried in fear at seeing their first flow while some thought they were innocently pregnant like ‘Mary’. A lot who do not understand their circles and the ovulation period, eventually had theirs come publicly which affected their confidence for a while.

I remember witnessing Chiamaka’s menarche in secondary school and in my cluelessness I impeccably touched her and said “see something like blood”; the next thing I saw was a rush of assemblies of girls around her with their hair-scarfs and handkerchiefs.

Now, if we still have such ignorance, why then are our teachers not educating them about such in school especially from primary 5 or 6 upwards since its expected at the age of 10 menstruation begins and most parents at home have failed in their duty as the first educators of a child. Why is this not part of school’s curriculum or extra class activity to educate the girl child on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) with vivid illustrations?

I remember in a biology class how shyly my teacher taught us on Sexual Reproductive System in SS3; I could perceive she thought she was corrupting us with such a scanty knowledge. Most girls get to use wrapper to suck the discharge and the novice just place it there not knowing the form or pattern thereby causing possible vaginal infection, irritation, amenorrhea, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) due to lack of proper Menstrual Hygiene Management and total ignorance.

Truism as it is, many girls who learnt how to use sanitary pads out of intuition, several mistakes, guess work, or curiosity, have now become guardian and counselors to their friends.

Meanwhile, the most knowledgeable ones are now regarded as seniors or school mothers to so many menstruation greenhorns. In 2019, UNICEF reported a girl in Malumfashi community of Katsina State in Nigeria, who was proudly educating her peers on Menstrual Hygiene Management as they could not penetrate the community widely but resulted to peer-peer mentorship.

As the need for sanitary pads rises by natural demand, the cost also have been reported to rise concurrently making it more difficult for a lot of girls to afford buying, and those who doesn’t have parental bonds or relationship tend to crush on guys for some money just to survive the rising cost of sanitary pads, yet not knowing the differences, whether short, long, heavy or light flow as peculiar to individuals.

UNFPA reported that studies from Kenya had shown that “school girls engage in transactional sex to pay for menstrual products, particularly for the younger, uneducated, economically dependent girls”.

Why then does this prevail? Research shows that there are presently more free condoms than free sanitary pads and there are more foundations distributing condoms than those sharing sanitary pads. Which then should be more paramount? Which should be considered most helpful to the millions of girls suffering and harming their urinary tract, vagina, menstrual cycles even their cervices due to ignorance, poverty, malnourished education, and lack of sensitization on their period which is commonly reported to have affected their education.

UNESCO reported that “Many girls drop out of school altogether once they begin menstruating, for others they miss 20 percent of their given school year”. Girls are forced to stay at home also during menstruation due to the annoying cramps, hormonal changes, Premenstrual Dysphonic Disorder (PMDD), or the fear that it could bleed out. And when this happens during a test or exam period, nobody cares to ask or understand.

The stay at home is owing to the lack of proper education and sensitization that regular exercise helps your body to generate more of your body painkiller ‘endorphins’. Vitamins B-6 or ginger, calcium and turmeric are considered to be relief agents which if without could continue to truncate girlsdream.

Education therefore is expedient for the use, experiences and the expected Premenstrual Syndromes (PMS) and how to manage it. Letting them know that it is a feminine blessing and should be appreciated and not feared nor cursed. In Kenya research shows one million girls in Kenya do not go to school because they lack access to sanitary pads.

In 2018, a passionate lady for the Girl Child Empowerment, Blessing Michael mobilized her CDs group batch 18b, stream 1 to carry out a commendable project of love by visiting government schools in Bomadi LGA in Delta. She gave out over 1000 sanitary pads to school girls for a period of 5months with the firm support and sponsorship from Fly Like A Cloud foundation, among other NGOs. Today so many girls still call in appreciation for such knowledge which has saved them from becoming prey to the savageries of men.

Currently, there is a need for more distribution of sanitary pads to girls in government schools.

These kinds of support by NGOs and the distributions of sanitary pads should be applauded. You can sponsor or partner with them to continue this life saving humanitarian work. NGOs such as:

Fly Like A Cloud Foundation
www.flylikecloudfoundation.org
Rock Flower Foundation
www.rockflower.org
Town Crier Initiative
towncrierinitiative@gmail.com
Society for the Improvement of Rural People
www.sirpnigeria.org

Give a girl a free sanitary pad today by reaching out to any of the above NGOs who are still in the graciousness of extending to government school girls and rural women needing the help of sanitary pads and other essential menstrual products.

Remember “Every Months Half of the World Bleeds”.

“Sex is choice, menstruation isn’t. Give free pads instead of free condom”.

Written by
© E.I Emeka 2020

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