April 25th 2017

Society / Health & Science

Why Somali mothers from Wajir prefer midwives to hospitals

According to Mr Abdullahi Hassan Maalim, the chief officer of public health and sanitation, the county has expanded health and raised the number of dispensaries from 55 to 112.

By Abdirahman Rashid Farahabdirahmancajab@gmail.comWednesday, 15 Feb 2017 15:39 EAT

Habaswein District Hospital, one of the facilities improved by the county government.

Midwives from Wajir County play a pivotal role in the process of birth delivery. Whereas the advent of devolution has seen the establishment of several medical facilities, in decades past there were not many hospitals in the county and midwifery was the only option for expectant mothers since accessibility to hospitals was difficult.

In this traditional birth period, expectant mothers never got the opportunity to visit clinics to get regular medical check-ups and advice from qualified medical personnel as happens today. There were no available clinics that could give proper advice to the pregnant mothers for better delivery, and many mothers were forced to deliver at homes. Most of these mothers faced numerous challenges during the home delivery process like overbleeding, contracting infections and difficulties in managing high blood pressure. Maternal mortality rates were high.

Today, with the county government handling health as a devolved function, the medical infrastructure is rapidly improving. According to Mr Abdullahi Hassan Maalim, the chief officer of public health and sanitation, the county has expanded health and raised the number of dispensaries from 55 to 112.

With this progress, the number of mothers seeking hospital maternal care is rising. However, three weeks ago I carried out a survey on the status of child delivery in Wajir County, and it is clear that still there those mothers who believe in giving birth at home. Particularly interesting to note is that mothers who have had previous delivery experiences prefer the home delivery as opposed to new expectant mothers who feel more comfortable with the hospitals.

There many factors that have contributed to the perseverance of the traditional birth system in this region. From my analysis, I found that one of the key factors is that mothers, especially those clinging to the Somali-Islamic culture shy away from the nurses or doctors. The second key factor is lack of proper education on maternal mortality.

Illiteracy is another issue that has lead to preference of home delivery to the hospital delivery. However, a major challenge for most mothers is a phobia associated with the caesarean section operation that is conducted for mothers who face complications during delivery. I have fanatically observed that (CS) is the major contributor to traditional birth methods in this region.

Mothers caution their husbands against taking them to the Hospital for delivery. In many times when the doctor request for radio imaging in order to assess the position of the child and the outcome of the image reads that there some complication be it from the mothers side or the child, and the doctor opt for (CS), in most cases the relative may return the expectant person to home and look for a traditional midwife.

Abdirahman Rashid Farah is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Wajir County





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