Dr Uche Daniel is the national maternity medical doctor in the Médecins Sans Frontières run maternity department of the Jahun hospital. The hospital offers the combination of emergency obstetrics and newborn care.
“The number of patients we have, I don’t have the statistics, but over a thousand patients monthly. Cases range from all the obstetrics emergencies – eclampsia, abruptions, placenta praevia [when the placenta blocks the entrance to the uterus] – and severe anaemia, which is one of the most common problems we see here,” Dr Uche Daniel said. At 32 he is a young doctor but with the sheer number of obstetric admissions Jahun receives, his experience level is high, varied and growing rapidly. “We have a particular post but during the on-call hours, we maternity doctors also cover the other units – ICU, maternity annex, neonatal and VVF [vesicovaginal fistula] – as well,” he said.
“We have a particular post but during the on-call hours, we maternity doctors also cover the other units – ICU, maternity annex, neonatal and VVF [vesicovaginal fistula] – as well"
Prior to joining Médecins Sans Frontières, Uche did his internship at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital in Sokoto; worked in triage and emergency at the State Specialist Hospital, also in Sokoto; worked for the Ministry of Health in Bogi, northern Nigeria, and in private practice in Abuja. Along the way, Uche met up with Médecins Sans Frontières.“In Sokoto I did some outreach programmes with MSF. In Bogi too, MSF came for the cholera work, they used our centre for the treatment of patients,” he said. Uche cites his training and upbringing as creating an interest in helping others, and a desire to work for an organisation that would “help people’s life, to save people’s life and provide help when needed to those who really need it.”
“Getting to see that humanitarian experience from MSF; selflessness, more determined in what they’re doing in providing help to those who need it, those less privileged who don’t have anybody to provide for them. I was really moved to be part of it. So far in MSF I have that fulfilment as a doctor. I provide help for people; I provide the need for those who need it. I must tell you what MSF is doing, the communities that are receiving the services, they really appreciate it.” Women travelling vast distances to reach Jahun for medical care. “They come here because: one, they get the best of services; two, it is timely; and three, it is a free service from presentation until they are discharged. The patients take back these stories. It’s just because they get the best services, that’s why they use this centre.” Uche said.
But working with Médecins Sans Frontières in Jahun is not without its challenges even for national staff working within Nigeria. “Most of us are not from this part of the country, we’re from the southeast and south. Coming to an environment that’s not your environment, getting to know the people, trying to learn the language to interact with the patients, and find what to eat is somehow difficult. But because of the determination to care, we are happy with the job we do with MSF and are enjoying the environment.” Meanwhile, the positives are simple for Uche. “The good thing is MSF!” he said with the excitement returning to his voice. “That’s the good story about it. The good thing about it is MSF!”