Monday, July 22, 2024

‘It’s sad for a pregnant woman to lose a baby due to poor road network’ — Traditional birth attendant

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By: Alieu Jallow

Bintanding Jarju, a traditional birth attendant in Jakoi Bintang, shared with The Fatu Network an incident in which a woman in labour lost her baby on the way to the hospital due to the poor road network connecting Jakoi Bintang and Kelly.

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“There was a time a woman in labour lost her baby while I was escorting her. As we reached Kelly, the woman gave birth, but the baby couldn’t make it. It is sad [for a pregnant woman] to lose [a baby] due to the poor road network,” Bintanding said.

Bintanding learned how to assist pregnant women from her mother who had that skill. However, she faces a major challenge due to the poor road network in her area. She said escorting women in labour is extremely difficult because there are no proper means of transportation available, except for ox or donkey carts.

“Sometimes to hire a vehicle becomes seemingly impossible because our road is inaccessible and even with the available ambulance, they will always report of fuel shortage,” Bintanding explained.

Mariama Jarju, a heavily pregnant woman, shared her difficult experience accessing healthcare services. According to her, attending antenatal services is a big struggle as they have to pay an exorbitant price for a motorbike. Due to poor road conditions, they often miss out on these important services.

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“I fear for my life sometimes because if you are in labour, you will hardly have a car to come to pick you up. In fact, last month, I missed out on my day all because of lack of transportation and poor road,” she said.

In the Gambia, traditional birth attendants are responsible for assisting with 60-70% of births, particularly in rural areas, despite the rapid expansion of Western-style health services.

Unfortunately, the infant mortality rate in the Gambia remains high, with 38.178 deaths per 1000 live births recorded in 2023, representing a 3.37% decline from the previous year. However, due to poor roads that deter drivers from accessing the village, Bintanding and expecting mothers still fear for their lives.

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