First 1,000 days of life: The successes, challenges of Kumbiya-Kumbiya PHC Gombe
Kumbiya-Kumbiya Primary healthcare center located in the heart of Gombe metropolis, is one of the the many healthcare facilities whose major remit is to ensure the survival of children from conception to the first 1,000 days of life.
A dissection of the challenges facing life in the first 1000 days across north east Nigeria with special focus on Adamawa, Taraba Gombe and Bauchi during a media dialogue organized by UNICEF Bauchi field office the previous day, has revealed a gory picture, as Gombe is one of the states with high incidences of mortality within the first 1000 days even in the north east.
“The first 1,000 days of life is the most critical and challenging time in the life of an individual which determines the success or otherwise of an individual’s lifetime as it was the period when 80 percent of the brain was developed as well as other critical developments,” resource persons during the media dialogue validate.
The hospital provides a range of services such as antenatal and postnatal care, immunization, and nutrition services to the hundreds of clients who patronize it on daily basis.
A field visit to the healthcare facility by some journalists sponsored by UNICEF Bauchi field office indicated that while there are a lot of success stories, there are also other challenges that need to be addressed for the hospital to function optimally
The most outstanding feature one notice about the hospital is the convivial atmosphere it provides to the teeming clients occasioned by clean environment, organized systems and most importantly a dedicated staff.
As at 9:30am of Tuesday 11th July, 2023, all the hospital staff were at their various points of duty attending to their various chores despite the fact that the visiting team almost paid an impromptu visit. In addition to that, there is a remarkable camaraderie and understanding between the staff and the clients.
Speaking to the team, Rabi Bello, the staff in charge of the ANC unit disclosed that they attend to about 500 – 600 hundred clients on daily basis.
She however noted that in recent times, the number has drastically dropped to between 300 – 400. When asked the reason behind the drop in the numbers, she said it may be due to the fuel subsidy removal because of the economic hardship it has wrought on the populace.
Bello noted that there is a very significant compliance of ANC by pregnant women because of the intensive sensitization and advocacy. In addition, she said another issue is that women have observed over time that those who attend ANC usually deliver successfully.
Also speaking, Hadiza Idris, the staff in charge of immunization, told the visiting team that there is high compliance to immunization as women allow their children to be completely immunized.
When asked the challenges they faced in that regard, Idris noted that in recent times, there is a marked reduction of women who come out for immunization perhaps as a result of the removal of petroleum subsidy which led to spikes in the cost of transportation.
She however noted that some NGOs have come handy in that direction as they avail the clients with transportation fares to encourage them to come for the exercise.
Also speaking to the team, Sadiya Adamu who is in charge of nutrition noted that no fewer than 15 out of 1000 babies within the age bracket get malnourished. She noted that the hospital usually provides nutrients for these class of babies. She however noted that the supply of the nutrients has stopped for a while making it difficult for those children with needs to access the services.
She disclosed that based on research, poverty was established as the major factor behind malnourishment of children.
Reactions of the clients
In an interview, a nursing mother, Fatima Abubakar who came for the immunization of her eight-day-old baby noted that she usually come for immunization as and when due.
Abubakar, a mother of three noted that she has lot one of the children within the first 1000 days. Although she said the baby died naturally, the death of one of her children within the first 1000 days is a signal that more should be done to save life at that critical point in time and also underscored the importance of the activity organized by UNICEF.
She also noted that based on the advice she get from the post natal clinic, she has embraced exclusive breast feeding noting that the practice has paid off as that has helped her in nurturing her surviving child.
Ralia Isa an expectant mother of two in her submission said, the totality of the support she got from conception to delivery have helped her raised healthy children in the past.
She thanked the government for all the services it had provided especially at ensuring women understand the benefits of exclusive breast feeding and immunization.
During a chat with the team, Halima Ahmed Kole, the facility manager of Kumbiya-Kumbiya PHC thanked UNICEF for its proactive measures in providing equipments, vaccines, nutrition and other critical requirements to ensure the survival of children during the most critical period.
She noted that as a result of that, the mortality rate of children within that life span is almost inconsequential but still added that like Oliver Twist, they are looking for more support to enhance their operations.
This reporter observed that there is a lacuna between the submissions of some of the staff and the facility manager indicating that the two sides are not on the same page as far as information is concerned.
Again the facility lacked a good data source as even the staffs seem not to understand the concept behind data gathering and management.
This challenge came to the fore when the facility manager was asked to provide data for their operations based on the conflicting report between her and her staff. But while responding the manager submitted that hospital has data bank while pointing to a heap of papers. This means the facility manager conflates raw and unprocessed information as data.
There is the need for UNICEF to train the staff of the facility on the importance of data. They should also be made to understand that data is a gathered, processed, organized and interpreted information developed to give information to the people.