Bulanyaki is 40 km away from the main road between Shagari and Tambuwal, in northern Nigeria’s Sokoto State. It takes three hours to get from Bulanyaki to the nearest hospital. Not surprisingly, pregnant women in Bulanyaki do not often seek antenatal services or skilled care when it comes time to deliver.
Mallam Ibrahim is a dynamic religious leader who serves as an advocate for maternal health. With training and support from the Fistula Care project, he traveled to Bulanyaki and encouraged the women there to access medical services. Everyone replied that the hospital was too far away and that getting there was too costly. It was unreasonable to expect that they could.
Moved by the remoteness of the Bulanyaki residents he had met, Mallam Ibrahim talked with one politician after another, from the ward-level councillor all the way to the chairman of the Shagari local government area. After lengthy discussions, the authorities agreed to send a mobile clinic to provide antenatal services.
Staffed by a nurse, the mobile clinic now travels to Bulanyaki every Tuesday, which is the weekly market day. Women from in and around Bulanyaki can now access antenatal care. Although antenatal screening cannot identify most women who will experience an obstetric emergency, it does allow health workers to detect and treat any problems during pregnancy. Critically, it also provides an opportunity to encourage women to plan their births and prepare for an obstetric emergency, should one happen. Women of Bulanyaki can now visit the mobile clinic for antenatal services, all thanks to the dedication and persistence of Mallam Ibrahim, the commitment of political leaders, and the facilitation of the Fistula Care project.