In Northern Nigerian, the phrase for “Happy Birthday” in the local language of Hausa is “Barka da rana haihuwarka.” The phrase literally translates to, “Greetings on the day you survived birth.” In parts of Nigeria, one in every eight births results in the death of the mother or child. Local Rotary Clubs, in
conjunction with IRIS Executive Director Del Christensen, are trying to reduce those infant and maternal mortality rates in the rural regions of Northern Nigeria by providing additional training for health care workers and midwives in the field.
As previously covered by IRIS, the Nigerian Birthing Project occurred in two phases. Phase one involved bringing Nigerian medical professionals to Des Moines University to train on proper birthing techniques. Phase two involved Christensen, Dr. Deb Turner and Labor/Delivery Nurse Sarah Grover traveling to Nigeria to disseminate that training through even more workshops. The group brought along several birthing simulator mannequins along with other training equipment to help teaching continue long after their departure.
While in Nigeria, the group was also able to visit a village birthing clinic which was a 2009 project of several Rotary Clubs. The success of this project led to the current birthing training project. The group learned that the clinic is going strong after several years, but more importantly the clinic has been providing additional training to the birthing attendants in the area. The impact this is having to the tens of thousands of people in this village and the surrounding villages is remarkable. Originally, the clinic was handling nearly 100 births each month. The clinic now handles 10 – 15 of the more challenging births each month while the trained traditional birthing attendants handle the 110 – 120 normal births that are occurring each month in the region. The result has been upwards of 125 safe births per month since the clinic’s inception. This shows that the approach to getting training to rural Traditional Birthing Attendants is proving successful already.
With the help of Christensen, the phrase “Barka da rana haihuwarka” has been uttered much more. IRIS is so proud of the work of the executive director and is excited to the project flourish in years to come.