ABUJA, Aisha Muhammed, is a seven months old baby who lost her mother to maternal death in Jadadi settlement of Kangiwa ward of Arewa Local Government Area of Kebbi State.
Jadadi, is a settlement along Kebbi and Niger Republic border. The settlement is 12 kilometres from Kangiwa, the Local Governmeent Area headquarters and 53 kilometres from the state capital, Birnin Kebbi.
18-year-old Aisha Muhammed, late mother of baby Aisha, who the baby was named after, died on Dec. 19, 2018, a day after giving birth to baby Aisha, when she started having some post birth complications as a result of not attending Ante Natal Care (ANC), throughout her pregnancy.
Hope of survival was dim for baby Aisha because of the challenge of feeding from breast milk, and the opportunity to enjoy breastfeeding exclusively
After the death of her mother, her grand mother, Habiba Abubakar, a mother of 8, including the late Aisha’s mother, who was also nursing her own baby who at that time was already 11months old, came with her intervention to save baby Aisha.
Habiba took Aisha in as her sole responsibility with the view to ensure she is not deprived of getting exclusive breastfeeding.
The 42 years old grandmother started breastfeeding Aisha, exclusively along side her own baby immediately, though without also considering the health risk on the baby.
The grand mother, explained that her focus at that point was the life and survival of the baby who is not responsible for the death of her mother.
“My daughter Aisha died 11 months after I had just given birth to my last baby and my breast milk was still flowing, so being an exclusive breastfeeding advocate, I thought I should make her enjoy the benefit of it. So I started immediately,” Habiba said.
EU, UNICEF STEPS IN
Exactly one week after baby Aisha was delivered, the European Union launched a programme aimed at ensuring hard-to-reach communities in Kebbi are reached with various services such as Routine Immunization (RI), Ante Natal Care (ANC), treatment of minor ailments, health education and malnutrition screening.
The programme which is being implemented by the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF), also included the provision of Vitamin A Supplement and Deworming and other services such as; health talks on key household practices, data collection and birth registration amongst others.
Speaking about Aisha’s situation, Hauwa Tahir, a midwife with the state government and the EU, UNICEF hard to reach team leader for Arewa LGA, said, “we came here exactly one week after her birth and her story was really a pathetic one.
“So when they brought her to our outreach and shared her story with us, we as a project, we started providing her with the adequate healthcare and gave the grandmother advise on what to do and that has been consistent and the health of the baby is an evidence.
“When we started, Aisha was just 1.5kg as at December but today she recorded 6kg. Apart from her, so many other children and women have also greatly benefitted from this programme.”
According to her, the programme is targeted to reach 24 children under one year for full immunization in the settlement and have already fully immunized 16 children. And that of the 113 under five years targeted, 36 have been immunized.
She said 7 women have already delivered safely out of the 21 targeted.
Hauwa, however regretted that two mothers were lost to the cold hand of death and one still birth recorded, which hitherto was higher based on the previous rate of maternal and child deaths before the commencement of the programme.
On EU, UNICEF intervention, Aisha’s grand mother, said the organisations effort was commendable, saying, “they came at a point when things were really bad and I don’t know what to do. I took my grand daughter without support because I believe, as a Fulani woman, child bearing and care is my sole responsibility.
“So when they came with all the provision and care, I was very happy. Since December, I have not bought any drug and other supplements with my money. They have been providing and Aisha is doing well today.”
The village Head of the community, 78 years old Alhaji Aliyu Abbas, who also lends his voice to the good work EU is doing in the community, said the gesture will forever remain in the hearts of his people.
He called on other individuals and organizations like UNICEF to continue touching the lives of people in the rural areas especially those that lack access to provision of good amenities for children to thrive and be alive.