Challenges of training health staff in rural Nigeria
Published: 2nd Aug 2012 07:35:09
We often hear about the struggle to recruit and retain health workers in rural communities in developing countries. I saw an attempt to provide a solution at first-hand recently in northern Nigeria, where a college of nursing and midwifery has just opened its doors.
The young students train in an area that looks like a conventional hospital ward - but the patients are in fact mannequins.
Aisha Kazaure, who co-ordinates midwifery training at the new college, in Jigawa state, said: "This is where we practise with the students before we go to the hospital and set them on live patients.
"We have life-size dummies for practising every procedure, including the method and mechanics of birth."
The trainee midwives learn how to bring a baby into the world safely, with the help of a wooden model.
Aisha admitted that even getting to this point had been difficult.
The project to build the college began more than two years ago, and has cost the state government $15m (£9.6m).
The college premises are impressive, but a few teething problems remain. For instance, the computer room has 40 PCs, but they are yet to be connected to a server.
However, the first graduation is due in September - and it seems that not much will dampen the students' spirits.
In the dormitory she shares with three other young women, Sharifa, 21, told me about the highlights so far of her three-year midwifery course.
She said: "It brought joy seeing myself in a ward in my uniform, trying to conduct a delivery.
"I've seen uncountable deliveries now - and been involved in four. Three went well. The other one was a breach delivery, so I had to use my hand to help the baby."
Sharifa said it had been a wonderful feeling when that particular delivery had proceeded well and the baby survived.
The hope is these new nurses and midwives will stay in Jigawa's villages once their training is complete, rather than drifting to towns and cities where the work is usually better paid.
The college represents a start in addressing what has been a gaping lack of resources.
Four years ago in Jigawa, there were only 14 midwives, trying to cover more than 600 small health centres.
A programme called Paths 2, funded by the British government, is working to improve the state's health system. Its staff helped with advice about the training college project.
The driving motivation behind Paths 2 is to reduce the state's high level of preventable deaths among pregnant women.
The programme's state team leader, Kende Abubakar, told me: "Jigawa has the highest maternal mortality in Nigeria.
"The rate of deaths among women, related to complications in pregnancy and birth, is almost 2,000 per 100,000 of the population.
"This is unacceptable and needs to be reversed. One of the ways we can intervene is by training more skilled personnel to serve the state's population of 4.5 million people."
The next day in Duhuwa, the problem of health-worker shortages was brought into sharp focus.
This village is about five miles from the nearest main road.
There is a sense of self-sufficiency - it has a solar panel and also a credit union for pooling everyone's savings.
It is a lively place with about 100 inhabitants - but they are mostly children, middle aged or elderly.
The young, it seems, have all left for the towns, to scratch out a living.
At an informal meeting on a classroom floor, the villagers were complaining through a translator that they had no permanent health worker.
In response, Susan Elden, a health adviser with the UK government's Department For International Development said a training place could be found at the new college - if the village nominated a suitable candidate and provided accommodation for a clinic.
She told the meeting: "If they have the ability to make this happen here, by providing the worker and the facility, we can provide the things to make it a good quality service."
The proposal was welcomed, with a round of applause from the villagers.
It sums up how I saw aid functioning here - Nigerians are asked to seize the initiative in finding their own solutions.
Only then does the foreign guidance kick in, followed by money if necessary.
This oil rich country has health problems that still pose substantial challenges. But some of the work on the ground signals hope for a better future.
At 23:55:54 in HeadlinesPope Francis has led Easter's Way of the Cross procession in Rome, with prayers for the poor and the abandoned.
At 23:55:01 in SportTottenham manager Tim Sherwood has admitted that he does not know his best team because so many of his players are "much of a muchness".
At 22:51:50 in HeadlinesThe US has threatened tougher economic sanctions if Russia fails to abide by a new international agreement to help de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.
At 21:56:47 in Northern IrelandThere has been a serious two-vehicle road crash in County Tyrone.
At 21:19:22 in HeadlinesPresident Barack Obama has signed into law a measure that would bar entry to any UN ambassador whom the US says has engaged in "terrorist activity".
At 21:00:23 in SportEllie Simmonds, Stephanie Slater and Amy Marren were among those gaining IPC European Championships qualification times on the opening day of the British Para-Swimming meet in Glasgow.
At 20:55:13 in SportMidfielder Joe Clarke is well aware of the importance of Wrexham's cross-border derby with Chester to the club's supporters.
At 20:51:49 in SportGrandeur claimed the Coral Easter Classic in front of a record modern-day crowd at Lingfield as the first ever British race meetings on Good Friday took place.
At 20:31:57 in BusinessThe US state department has given federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL oil pipeline before it determines whether to issue a permit.
At 20:01:09 in HeadlinesCaptain of South Korean ferry that sank earlier this week has been arrested, South Korean media say
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Challenges of training health staff in rural Nigeria [Online] (Updated 2nd Aug 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1444055/Challenges-of-training-health-staff-in-rural-Nigeria [Accessed 19th Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
The US state department has given federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL oil pipeline before it determines whether to issue a permit.
An orangutan with breathing problems has undergone what is believed to have been the first sinus operation on such an ape in the UK.
There has been a serious two-vehicle road crash in County Tyrone.
Pope Francis has led Easter's Way of the Cross procession in Rome, with prayers for the poor and the abandoned.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
Unruly. Noisy. Even rude.