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Women Birth a New Vision for Maternity Care

Recommendation: Hold Healthcare Providers Accountable


CAMEROON: The Sour Taste of Pregnancy

As a young woman who has had three pregnancies and is now a mother to two children, I have had my share of the deplorable conditions expectant mothers in Cameroon face every day. I have also heard countless tales that echo my experience from other women in my community: unnecessary surgeries, unscrupulous medical personnel, lack of nurturing caregivers during pregnancy and delivery—there are so many sour experiences where maternal health is concerned.

Labor for my first child began at night so I was rushed to the hospital at about 10pm. The midwife in attendance was asleep when I got there. She was so unhappy because I interrupted her slumber. This made her very hostile towards me throughout that night, and if not for the timely intervention of more accommodating colleagues I wonder how that delivery would have ended.

My second pregnancy terminated in a miscarriage that could have been avoided if I had met committed health workers when I got to the hospital. Instead of getting me checked in immediately, I had to insist that my situation needed urgent attention. Finally, they offered to admit me as an in-patient but kept me waiting with no care whatsoever. That was how I bled until I finally lost my second baby.

With my third pregnancy, I had very poor prenatal care in the hospital where I registered: No lectures on my first visit, no essential tests, and an arrogant midwife who would not answer my simple questions. I eventually evaded this hospital to give birth in a private clinic where the workers were more hospitable. However, when I got my bill at the end, it had been consciously inflated.

More evils exist when it comes to maternal health care in Cameroon. Mothers are not given adequate information to sustain them throughout pregnancy. Some of them lose their premature babies because they were not incubated on time. Some get infections because their after-birth tears were not stitched. Some lose their babies right after they are born because midwives are too busy to attend to them. Some bleed to death because no medication is given to control abnormal bleeding. The list is just endless.

The truth is a lot of nurses, midwives, and medical doctors are not passionate about their jobs. They are more passionate about money. Pregnant women who need premium care continue to be their victims. According to a World Bank report published in 2012, as of 2010, 690 women in Cameroon died during pregnancy and childbirth per 100,000 live births. This number can be greatly reduced if the ills plaguing maternal health are curbed.

I call on my fellow women to study intensely when they are pregnant. We need to stand up for ourselves and put our health first. Let us empower ourselves with knowledge and choose the better health institutions over the bad ones. Pregnant women carry the future generation and we need appropriate care!

Precious Meshi Nkeih | Cameroon . . .


Rhobai's picture


Exactly. You are to the point

sowershouse's picture


So, it happens too in Lagos. Even here in Abuja, in one of these Government hospitals, the story is horrible! I am still not sure if these nurses know the meaning of the name they are called- midwives, and the symbolism of the uniform they wear- white. Well, I am not here to preach. May God forgive them, all the same.

Jacquiline's picture

Horrific state

I must confess that I am sad reading this story to the point I ask my self does this really happen? I have given birth twice and I have never experienced any bad situation.

The hospital where I go to deliver is very clean and has very respectful staff and the price is well lets say friendly to the pocket(affordable).

I thank God for our country and the far we have come and PRAY that God will instil discipline in the hearts of midwives and nurses to always be careful of how they treat mothers to be and the babies to be born.

olutosin's picture

It was worse

I did not mention my first two nights before the delivery date, I only started from the delivery room. The day I began to experience labour and the water burst was not the day I delivered, I slept at the back of a PICK UP PEUGEOT VEHICLE in the premises of the hospital. It was my first labour, I was afraid to go back home in case the baby decides to force her way our along the road and there was no bed for those who are yet to deliver their babies.

My husband sat down all night watching over me and scaring the mosquitoes away. My experience with Medical Center even after delivery, if narrated will be considered as tarnishing the image of my country. Government hospitals are cheaper, but then, I will never take such risk again.

My conclusion is just solution, not narrating heart-breaking experiences. transformation and not apportioning blames. I have experienced it, I survived, how other women and my daughters too, will not experience same is my concern.

Thank so much for the comments.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town


Heartrending story Olutosin. I applaud your ability to rise above this and actually use your life as a means to achieve social change!

This is and even more heartrending because it is the stark reality for so many women... I was speaking to a friend who gave a similar experience about having the nursing staff try to push back her baby into her because the staff and labour ward weren't ready yet!

We shall overcome

Maternal Health Channel
Asking questions. Seeking solutions. Saving lives

oreoluwa's picture


Hi Titi,

This is a wonderful write-up and recognition of the role that men play in creating a better world for women. To make any long-lasting and sustainable change, we need to have both men and women on board and working together.

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