COMMUNITY HEALTH VOLUNTEER SAVES NEWBORN’S LIFE
By Abey Abdimohamed
Barey Ibrahim is a 40 year old CHV who underwent a 12-day extensive training facilitated by Save the Children between September and October 2015. In March 2016, she found herself in the middle of a medical emergency: at 32 weeks of pregnancy a mother was in labour in Tulatula community unit located 12kms from Wajir town. The mother, who did not deliver at a facility and opted to use the services of a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA), delivered a premature baby. Using skills acquired from the training, Barey supported the mother in a procedure that saved the newborn’s life.
Barey’s story in her own words
Barey says, “Most of my relatives are pastoralists living in the interior parts of Wajir. On this day, during my visit, I found a mother in labour. When I heard that there was a woman in labor, I went to the household and found a traditional midwife ready to conduct the delivery. I was told the pregnancy had not reached its time and I knew the mother would give birth to a small baby. I had learned that babies born before they have reached their time have some problems and I used what I had learned from the training to take care of the baby.”
Traditionally, within the Somali community, a newborn baby is expected to be bathed in cold water as soon as it is born since they believe the baby is unclean.
“While they were preparing to bathe the baby in cold water, I stopped them and explained to the traditional midwife that the baby will be affected by the cold if bathed in cold water and it may die. It took hours for me to convince them not to bathe the baby and help them understand why bathing newborn babies especially the small ones is dangerous,” says Barey
“I dried the baby with a clean cloth and wrapped him including the head with a fresh dry cloth. I tried to get the baby to breastfeed but unfortunately the baby could not breastfeed so I helped the mother to put the breast milk in a clean cup. The traditional midwife was closely watching my actions and she could not believe what I was doing.”
Asked how she felt about the whole experience, Barey who is also a trader at Tulatula market and a mother of six children says: “I am happy that the traditional midwife allowed me to take charge of the situation. For seven days, I coached the mother on how to care for the small baby: she should not bathe the baby till the end of the first week; she should only feed the baby breastmilk and nothing else at least 10 to 12 times a day; she should keep the baby close to her skin to keep him warm; she should wash hands with clean water and soap every time before touching the baby, so that he does not get sick; she should keep the grass thatched house warm.”
“On the eighth day the baby started breastfeeding well and I was very happy. For me, it was a double blessing because I saved the baby and taught the traditional midwife something new on how to take care of a small baby. It is an experience I cannot forget and I am happy to have done something to save the baby and also to teach the traditional midwife something that can help other babies.” says Barey.
Save the Children in conjunction with the Ministry of Health through the UKaid funded MNH programme has facilitated on-site training for CHVs. The CHVs are trained on community based maternal and newborn health (CBMNH). In September to October 2015 and a total of 17CHVs (9 female and 8 male) were trained.