By Gabriel Olawale
IN recognition of the important role that they play in the provision of healthcare especially at the grassroots, Traditional Birth Attendants, TBAs, have been recognised as indispensable to healthcare delivery in the country.
A past Chairman of the Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board, Dr. Bunmi Omoseyindemi who stated this position, said the State government should put in place capacity building programmes to boost the confidence of TBAs to safely take deliveries and make quick referrals in case of emergency.
Omoseyindemi, who was pioneer Chairman of the LSTMB, said shortage of healthcare practitioners and the fact that many deliveries in Nigeria are still taken by TBAs make it imperative to keep training and re-training them for optimal service delivery.
Speaking at the Makoko/ Iwaya Primary Health Care, PHC, Project organised for TBAs and Traditional Healers by Arctic Infrastructure and Support, Switzerland, Omoseyindemi noted that TBAs are part of the community, share similar cultures and understand the people.
“For effective healthcare delivery we need human resources, but within our nation of 180 million people, it is quite sad that the number of doctors we have is inadequate. We have 30 doctors to 100,000 patients, 100 nurses to 100,000 patients, 80 midwives to 100,000 patients, 2 dentists to about 100,000 patients.”
He said a one year programme was put in place for training and re-training, the first six weeks under the board’s supervision and the second six weeks at the nearest General Hospital.
“In the process, our infant and maternal deaths in the state have reduced even though the present figure is not still acceptable.
Education: “For Instance, we educated our TBAs on the need to send pregnant women for scan instead of guessing and how to identifiy emergency for quick referral to the appropriate centre, also on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Our Traditional Healers such as bone setters are encouraged to send their patients for x-ray to ascertain the spot and extent of the fracture.”
Since the Board came into existence in 2006, over 6,000 TBAs and THs have been trained. “The practitioner now has confidence to refer patient to the PHC, General Hospitals unlike before that they are scared of been abused and reject.”
“We have also designed another training programme in partnership with PATH2 that will empower our TBAs to become Community Birth Attendance, CBA.
“The training will take place at Yaba College of Health Technology, where they are going to be trained as CBA in the process, they will have confidence in themselves interact with Community Health Extension Workers and be under the supervision of Community Health Officers.”
On his part, Project Director, Arctic Infrastructure, Mr. Lookman Oshodi said the Project was to improve access to healthcare delivery in Makoko and Iwaya waterfront.
He explained that the focus revolved around development of Primary Health Care, PHC awareness creation and capacity building in the community informed the project.
Water front: “Makoko water front community have about 40,000 people and by planning indicator, where you have such number of people, there suppose to be a PHC facilities that will attend to healthcare issue of the resident, but they lack such facilities.
The only way they are surviving is through TBAs and THs so there is need to empower these group of people.”
Corroborrating his views, Chairman, Iroko Healthcare Support, Dr. Vincent da Silva stressed the need to give back to marginalised communities informed the project along with some of his friends who lives in abroad.