By Jonathan Ugbal
Two women have died after delivering in the home of a self-styled prophet in Ikom local government area of Cross River State.
The women; Violet Mbala Ekor and Helen Isieg died within 24 hours of each other when after completing ante-natal care in the Primary Health facilities in Nkarasi, Aabanyom ward of Ikom choosed to visit the residence of one Prophet Eka to deliver.
Abanyom ward is the largest in terms of the number of villages and health facilities in Ikom as it consists of 2 autonomous clans, 26 villages and boasts a record high 14 health facilities but the said Eka lady has been preaching against their use claiming they were evil spirits occupying them.
“They have been going for ante-natal care (ANC) in the Health Centre at Nkarasi 1 but this Eka woman usually tells them that they should not deliver in the health centers as the health centers are occupied with witches and wizards,” a senior health staff told this reporter.
The staff continued; “The community people told me she always advises the pregnant women in labor to come with only one person, mostly their husbands as others are witches.”
Helen Isieg, a native of Obubra bred in Abinti 1 community died on Wednesday after delivering and suffering post-partum hemorrhage.
She was delivering her fourth child and the baby died a few minutes after her. She has since been buried in the community due to the war in her community which has claimed several lives.
Her friend who declined mentioning her name said: “She had gone to the church and when she was going into labor, was asked to stay back. She did and when there were complications, the Traditional Birth Attendant called the Health Officer at Nkarasi Health Centre who told them to take her to the clinic but they refused, they called on Wednesday morning again and she insisted that they take her to the facility but they did not and she died with the baby dying shortly after.”
Women residing in Abinti 1 are often been referred to as “Abinti baby born baby” as the girls are prepared for marriage as early as age 10with their mothers willing to sleep on the ground while an unknown man has sex with their daughter on her bed without let or hinder.
This reporter could see mothers of age 17, 18 through 22 as he was inquiring more about the community. The community is noted for its resistance for family planning, a phenomenon which has pushed development partners away from the ward and the local government due to the high reproductive rate sources in the local government said.
For Violet Ekor, she registered at the Health Post in Nkim, 30 seconds away from her home but while about delivering, decided to go to the said Eka lady and she died of PPH at about 12:00 AM on Thursday after delivering a baby girl at about 11:00 PM on Wednesday.
As at the time of visitation, her body was being prepared for burial while her husband, Odey John who lives in Edor was visibly in tears and could not fathom how he lost his wife about an hour after delivery.
But, the woman in question Eka Maria Innocent John Odo told CrossRiverWatch that she was trained in church to deliver women and denied telling the women to stay away from health centers as she always enlists the help of professionals when there is crisis.
“I was trained in my church, the Apostolic church on how to attend to women in labor. It is a gift from God,” she said and added that: “When there are challenges, I call Nurse Juliet and Nurse Rose to come and attend to them but I don’t tell them not to go to health centers as they always go for ante-natal there but only come here for delivery.”
CrossRiverWatch later gathered that the nurses she was referring to were actually community health practitioners who are acting as volunteers in some health facilities around Abanyom ward.
When asked if she will like to be trained by government as a professional traditional birth attendant, she declined comment.
She said she had no idea how many women had delivered successfully in her house, neither are there records of death and did not demonstrate knowledge of any ante-natal, natal and post-natal care despite saying she holds a ministration service for pregnant women every Wednesday from 7 – 9:00 AM where they are advised to fast so that she can “see vision.”
She has also begun her ministry; Supreme Light Church which is a dark room about 10 feet by 12 feet in size.
Both women lived within 3 minutes of one of the 1,013 primary health care facilities in the state and their inability to deliver in one of them has been a headache for authorities which the Primary Health Care Coordinator in Ikom, Mrs. Evelyn Nkom in a friendly chat said she needs to solve through the Ward Development Committees (WDC).
She said this shortly after inaugurating the WDC in Abanyom ward head by Mr. Fidelis Ndago who pledged to ensure women work hard to bring women to deliver in the facilities.