“Who says age is a barrier”

These were Mama’s exact words when we visited her Health facility on the 12th of July, 2011 at about 1.45 pm. Mama owns a Maternity Clinic called Ledana, situated at Oboro community in Ikwuano LGA of Abia State, about 54 kilometers from the state capital, Umuahia.

The clinic is well over 19 years old. Her name is Mrs. Nwanyieze Eze Anyim, but she is fondly called Mama.
My first contact with Mama was in 2010 during the Malaria training of health care providers. Upon sighting her and noticing her age, I quickly walked up to her and asked if she did not have a younger person working with her, who could have attended the training instead. She told me not to worry, that she is still very strong. I asked if she would be able to properly carry out the required documentation using the new MIS tools; and she responded in the affirmative. I observed her throughout the training sessions and she was fully engaged in rapt attention.

Since distribution of ACTs started in Abia State; Mama has been receiving ACTs and the record-keeping in her facility has been outstanding. Previously, we were under the impression that her health facility records were updated and managed by one of her children; however, this was corrected during our visit to her facility on July 12th; when she entertained us and told us about herself.

When asked who carries out the documentation for her, a member of our team hastily said, ‘It’s one of her children’; But Mama said no, ‘They don’t know statistics and were not taught by the Europeans. So they can’t do it.’ Mama said that we should not consider her age or how fragile she seems— that she is still in total control of the clinic. Her footsteps, when she walks through the corridor of the maternity clinic, seem to be those of an 18 yr old.

Ledana Maternity, Oboro, in Ikwuano LGA of Abia State

Letting us into her world, Mama said she went to secondary school at Ibiaku Secondary School, Ikot Ekpene. She trained at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, now FMC Ikot Ekpene and qualified as a staff midwife in 1958. She worked in that hospital until she retired in August 1993. She was born in 1933 and is now 78 years old; even though one of her granddaughters whom we met says Mama is above 90 years. Mama has 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

In 1982, while she was working at Ikot Ekpene, she started building the Maternity Clinic with her husband Mr. Eze Anyim, of blessed memory, who was then a business man. The clinic took 12 years to build—from 1982 to 1994. In 1994, it started operating as a maternity clinic. Mama showed us all the documents she used to register the maternity clinic with the Abia State Ministry of Health as far back as 1993. She has lost count of the number of children born in the clinic; even though she brought out all her registers and wanted to manually count all the newborns the maternity clinic has seen from inception till date. As a result of time constraints, we told her to give us the estimate and she said 5000 babies. We saw 2 babies that had been delivered the day before, as they were still in the clinic with their mothers.

Mama’s story is worth sharing, and it has shown that documentation for the GF Malaria project is all about interest. She is retired from active service but definitely not tired. Her few patients we met at the clinic testified that the ACTs are wonder drugs and they showed appreciation for the work of SFH Nigeria.

By Ngozi Noel-Ogamba, GF Malaria Coordinator, Imo & Abia State

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