My husband and I have always known that I would deliver at the hospital,” says Azeema Hussaini, 25, while sitting on a bed in a muddy two-room house, nursing her three-week-old daughter, Maisara, whom she gave birth to at the General Hospital Jahun, Jigawa State. The mother of three had her previous deliveries at the same hospital. Three years ago, when she had her second child, she had to undergo a caesarean section. Her husband Hussaini Muhammad, a trader who regularly travels to nearby villages for business made an arrangement with Halima Adamu, a women leader in their village of Bordo. He informed Adamu of his plan to have his wife taken to the hospital if she goes into labour while he was away.
On a Wednesday afternoon in early September, as she started having labour signs, Hussaini sent for Adamu, who immediately came with the driver, Yunusa Uba and they made the 35 kilometre-journey to Jahun, where she delivered her baby within an hour of arrival. Hussaini is one of the hundreds of women from Bordo and five surrounding settlements that have been transported to the hospital for deliveries in 2020, thanks to a vehicle herself and other women contributed money to buy in December 2019.
Bordo village, in Tauro Local Government Area of Jigawa State has had challenges for three years, while taking pregnant women in labour to the hospital for delivery. “We have lost several women and their babies,” said Alhassan Haruna, the traditional leader of the village. Between 2010 and 2016, the village had a vehicle solely for that purpose and women were transported safely to hospitals for deliveries. The vehicle was donated by the Jigawa State Government in 2010 through the Haihuwa Lafiya or safe delivery program, which was initiated by the state government to ensure women, especially those living in rural communities, are transported safely to the nearest hospitals for deliveries.
The vehicle was involved in an accident in 2016 and even though no life was lost, it was damaged beyond repair, according to Haruna. Since then, as there was no vehicle in the entire village, women in Bordo had to be transported in wheelbarrows or motorbikes. The pregnant women had to travel through approximately five kilometres of untarred roads which get wet and muddy during the rainy season, to nearby Aujara village. They would then have to hire another vehicle to take them to Jahun General Hospital. According to Adamu, aside losing their lives, many women had given birth on their way to Aujara, while some ended up with complications like fistula, which has serious implications on their future pregnancies.