By Zainab Tanimu, Kaduna, NorthWest, Nigeria
Rido, a Community in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State hosting the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company has been experiencing miscarriages by women which they linked to the poor state of the road connecting the area to the metropolitan city as well as the toxic waste from the Refinery.
Rido Community is about 4 kilometres from Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company (KRPC) and less than 13 kilometres to the state capital. Sadly, despite its proximity to the city centre, the community also lacks functional health facilities, leaving pregnant women to suffer constant miscarriages.
Cecilia Musa, 38 who narrates her experience to trace reporter said she married for about ten years now and without a child. Not that she does not conceive, she laments how she always have miscarriages whenever she is pregnant. She believes that the recent loss of her twin babies in her seventh month of pregnancy, could be traced to the deplorable state of the road in her community.
According to her, ” I am a food vendor at the refinery, I ply this bad road daily on motorcycle because this is where I earn my living; I had miscarriage before now and I got pregnant again which was four months twins and I lost them due to the bad road,” she insisted.
Like Musa, Alheri Obadiah, a mother of three has also had three miscarriages, since she got married five years ago.
“I almost lost my life; one of the miscarriages I had was of a six months pregnancy.”
These are the tales of most women in Rido Community who also say the primary health centre in the community do not operate at night, thus forcing them to convey patients to Kaduna , the state capital during emergency situations.
“When a woman is in labour at night, we have to look for a way to take her to town for delivery because the primary health center here does not operate at night,” says Amina Musa , a mother of two.
Miscarriage which is also called spontaneous abortion, can be physically and emotionally painful, as findings by trace reporter shows that more than 1.5m women in Nigeria suffer cases of spontaneous abortion yearly.
In the community, majority of pregnant women maintained that bad roads were responsible for their increasing miscarriages , leading to a good number of expectant mothers in the community being forced into terminating their pregnancies.
The women who use the road constantly told Trace Reporter that they often come in bleeding and the pregnancy eventually terminated..
Confirming this , Juwairiyya Abubakar, a traditional birth attendant and religious teacher, acknowledged the challenge faced by women in the community, saying that some of the women were however shy in sharing their experiences.
“So far we are however grateful, that in spite of the bad road, cases of maternal death and death of children under five have dropped drastically because we always encourage them to attend antenatal classes, immunisation and family planning for safety.
” From last year to this year , we lost two women, but no child died; we only had cases of convulsion, typhoid and malaria in children due to polluted water caused by the toxic waste discharged from the Refinery.
” We also discourage early marriages, dropping out of school and hawking,” Mrs Abubakar said.
On his part, a community leader, the Madakin Rido, Malam Musa Suleiman said:” Two years ago, any time from six o clock in the evening, if a woman is in labour we have to look for a way to go to town for delivery.
“Now we have a primary health centre even though not fully operational, the person in charge of the facility has trained 18 traditional birth attendants to assist our women.”
” Whenever it rains, motorists find it difficult to get to the community because of the condition of the road, people mostly trek through the 45 minutes journey rather than risk using vehicles.
“Commercial activities have dwindled because of the deplorable road, people now detest coming here to buy things from traders, even landlords are no longer finding things easy because people are not coming to rent houses here anymore,” Suleiman stressed.
Another major perceived medical Challenge linking to miscarriage in the community, is the chemical waste and fumes from the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company (KRPC). Although not medically proven, a patent medicine dealer in the community, Solomon Andy, says pregnant women often times miscarry their babies after inhaling the fumes.
Habibu Shehu Abdullahi, the Deputy Manager Community Relation Officer Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Co.Ltd a subsidiary of NNPC admitted that Rido community road is bad and disclosed that the construction of the road is on the drawing board.
On the toxic waste, he said that NNPC has laboratory system that check what goes out of the company.
“Most of the complaints could be associated with secondary infertility, because victims have, in the past, given birth to children before they suddenly stopped. There was widespread belief that smoke and poisonous gases emitted from the refinery have reproductive health effect on people living in the area, but no medical report has confirmed the allegation due to inability of villagers to seek comprehensive medical tests, perhaps owing to lack of awareness and poverty.” he said.
While all the affected women in Rido community blame their miscarriages to bad road , Consultant Obstetrician / Gynaecologist, and Senior Lecturer at Kaduna state university and also a consultant at the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Dr. Stephen Bodam Bature however disagreed that bad roads could cause miscarriages.
He said that there are many causes of miscarriage that are preventable These, he said, include: Chromosomal abnormalities, which is caused by either the egg or sperms chromosomes during embryo formation as well as Life style like drug abuse and consumption of alcohol during pregnancy .
Dr. Bature however advised women with such experience of two or more consecutive miscarriages to talk to a gynaecologist, health care provider on whether further medical examination is nee!ded to identify any underlying causes before attempting to get pregnant again.
“What she needs to do is to visit hospital and see a gynaecologist to access her and find out why she keeps having miscarriage, any woman that has at least two miscarriages , we look for the cause”
Dr. Bature also said that If the cause of ones miscarriages can’t be identified, he advised such woman not to worry but to see a gynaecologist for post abortion care .
Though it is not medically proved to align with the perception of the community as regards the loss of pregnancies , it is obligatory for the State government to do the needful by providing the community with motorable road and a full functional health facility
Similarly, as its Corporate social responsibility, the Kaduna- Refining and Petrochemical Company should see it as a challenge, to control the toxic waste being discharged and also identify with the host community by providing it with basic amenities