For a first timer visiting Agboyi-Ketu, a Lagos community in Agboyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, surrounded by water without a link bridge, the feelings will be that of anxiety.
Sandwiched between Ogudu and Alapere, the community is quite close to the hustling and bursting of Lagos modernity, yet it is far from urbanisation. But, that makes it to be quite close to nature.
You can easily notice cluster villages on an Island – Agboyi 1 and 2, and OkoAgbon, so named because of the abundance of coconut plantation in the enclave.
During a recent tour of the community, Independent observed that majority of pregnant women in the community patronise the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) more than the Primary Health Care (PHC) centre in the area.
The Baale of Agboyi 1 community, Chief Jelil Beyioku, confirmed to Independent that the riverine are with the population of over 40,000 people, poor access roads and any link bridge prefers the use of Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) Homes than the PHC centre.
Speaking in an interview with some select journalists during the visit which was organised by Development Communication, a Lagos based organisation, the elated Beyioku, said that God has been assisting their pregnant women to deliver their babies without complications.
“Our forefathers believed in rituals and sacrifices’ and so we have upheld that till this day and we ensure that we do that at least once in two months. While we do ours, the Christians living among us pray and fast for the community as well as our Muslim brethren.
Concerning maternal mortality in the community, the Baale said that death of women during pregnancy is a global issue, but noted that women have been having safe delivery in the community.
He said: “The loss of pregnant women is not common here because we all pray and God has been faithful in answering our prayers. At least, we have never experienced maternal mortality in our community in the last four to five years.”
The Baale identified inaccessibility of road as one of the greatest challenges facing the community.
According to him, a village without a link bridge and good access road is automatically cut off from the rest of the world, adding that such a place is bound to have challenges.
“If we have good road that is accessible, our pregnant women will not have to face challenges when they want to give birth as they can easily go to any hospital to deliver.”
Still on the importance of access roads and linking bridge, he recalled that in March last year, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode visited the community with his team and promised to build a bridge that will link the community to the main town by 2017.
Considering the state of the Primary Health Centre and its operation in the area, he said:
“They are trying, but there is a limit to what they can do, they resume by 8.am and close by 4.pm, so whatever happens after 4.pm, the patient is left in the hands of God.
“May be when we have a link bridge, they can work 24 hours and by then also we will be able to access better health care services outside the community.
“In many cases, we are being rescued by some local nurses that live around us and also the Traditional Care Givers or Traditional Birth Attendants who take care of the pregnant woman.”
Speaking further, he added that lack of potable water was another challenge facing the community. According to him, residents in the community spend much in buying drinking water as the available one is not good for drinking.
He stressed: “The water around us here is not good for drinking because it could cause sickness, so we bath with the water and cook with it, but we buy the water we drink and buying water is very expensive.”
A TBA Mrs. Ayino Abiodun, corroborating earlier views said that majority of pregnant women in the community patronise the TBAs more than the health centre.
Abiodu who has been in the practice for the past fifteen years attributed the preference to the quality of care which pregnant women receives from the TBAs.
This coupled with the fact that TBAs operate 24 hours unlike the health centre.
To her, many of the pregnant women who visit her home suffer malaria attack, but she usually ask them to go for test and scan at Alapere before treatment.
“As a trained TBA with the Board of Traditional Medicine at Onika and Gbagada, I do not just administer any treatment on pregnant women as this could be dangerous to their health and that of the unborn baby.
“We work hand in hand with the health centre in the community; we on our own do refer pregnant women to the health centre. We also receive calls from the centre asking us the kind of treatment we give to pregnant women and we provide them the right information because we are dealing with human life.”
On the number of patients she attends to monthly, she said: “l receive as much as 15 to 20 pregnant women in a month, while some times the number drops. If we sum it up in a year, we should be looking at a hundred persons or more yearly.
On his part, World Health Committee Chairman, Olusegun Adeboye observed that the primary health care in the community lacks manpower.
Explaining further, Adebayo said: “They come in at around 8.am and before you know it, they have closed for the day. The PHC has no medical doctor at all, except nurses and a midwife.
In this community, pregnant women patronise the Traditional Birth Attendance (TBA) more than that of the orthodox.
According to him, if government can construct a link bridge from Alepere down to the Agboyi, it will help improve the living standard of the residents of Agboyi.
However, he stressed on the need for the state government to increase the facilities in the Primary Health Centre and also employ more trained staff to attend to the need of the people.
Considering the increased number of people living in the community, he called on the state government to build a general hospital in the area that will have facilities for the screening of different types of ailments.
Also speaking a youth in the community, Oladeji Keyinde said: “Our prayer is that one day the government will come to our rescue by providing us a good and standard medical centre with qualified doctors and nurses and also build a bridge for us that links us to the outside world.”