Rural Voices



Yendi Principal Superintendent Midwife Nurse revealed deadly experience

Posted by Npong on June 6, 2011 at 4:27 AM

......says "we worked under flying bullets, stones to save pregnant women and dying infants

Francis Npong, Yendi, N/R

For her passion to save innocent lives, a 59 years old midwife Madam Agartha Fulani who braved all odds to worked under flying bullets, and slept in the midst of reptiles to deliver over one hundred pregnant women at the Yendi Hospital tells an incredible story of how she worked under life threatening conditions at the peak of Dagbon Chieftaincy dispute caring for pregnant women and dying infants.

While her colleagues were seeking greener pastures abroad and looking well equipped health posts in a friendly atmosphere to make financial gains she decided to stay and work in chaotic environment to deliver poor pregnant women and vulnerable children who at the time were in dire need of medical attention to survive.

The Yendi Principal Superintendent Midwife Nurse in an exclusive interview with The Enquirer said health profession is a sacrificial job, not money making and urged her colleagues to eschew strikes to save lives which she stressed is important than wealth.

Her plea comes at the time health service in the region is in high demand and there is dire need for health professionals to help handle cases in various health posts particularly in the northern region, which still records high maternal and infant deaths each year.

It is not uncommon to hear health workers in this country abandoning ill persons on their hospital beds and going on strike to demand for pay increases and incentive packages otherwise known as better working conditions or services which are done at the peril of lives.

Madam Agartha who started her nursing profession in 70s, as a midwife has risen to the position of a principal superintendent nurse and currently in-charged of the antenatal ward at the Yendi Government Hospital. She attributed her success to hardworking, endurance and passion for the job. She hailed from Navorongo in the Upper East region.

She was enrolled in Navorongo Nurses training School in 1969, and had her orientation at Bolga Nurses School in 1980s and later went to Mampong Midwifery training school and dropped because of pregnancy which nearly shattered her dream of becoming a professional midwife.

But she mustered courage and later went back to school in 1985 after given birth. She was posted to the Tamale Hospital upon completion where she served for five years under deplorable working conditions.

In 1995, just after the terrible Nanumba, Dagonba- Konkomba conflict which began in 1993, she was posted to Yendi Hospital. This was the time health professionals declined posting to the area when their services were needed most. Unlike her colleagues in the profession who are failing mankind, she braved all odds and accepted to serve the people at the Yendi Hospital despite the conflict.

She became the birth attended to the wives of the late Ya Na Yakubu Andani II because of her hardworking and friendliness and was subsequently adopted by the late YaNa as his wife and made her part of his family (Na-pag). That is how she got the name Na-pag known by the people in Yendi.

Na-pag, a mother of three boys was among the other three midwives some of whom where natives of Yendi working at the Yendi Hospital who handled birth complications and dying infants during the tumultuous chieftaincy dispute. While at the hospital struggling to save lives of pregnant women and dying children bullets and stones where flying over the roof of the hospital while dangerous snakes where seen all over particularly in her rotten ceiling bungalow serving as her residence.

Madam Agartha narrated that at the peak of the Yendi Chieftaincy conflict there was shortages of medical consumables when complicated pregnancy and infants cases soared. According to her, that was the critical moment for her as a nurse as they stood helpless while pregnant women and infants died from preventable diseases.

Though she could not disclose the number of maternal and infant deaths they recorded at the time she said the number was alarming.

She however blamed maternal deaths to delays in bringing pregnant women to the hospital, raptures as a result of pregnancy inducement with dangerous local herb known as Syntocinon by local birth attendants and self medication among other things. Syntocinon is a popular birth inducement local herb used in and around Yendi which causes rapture in women leading to deaths. It can also cause abortion in early pregnancy.

“It was during this time that we’ve realized women induce pregnancies at local level which causes rapture leading to deaths”, she said.

She ignored calls by her relatives and friends to leave Yendi Township because of the conflict. “We worked day and night non-stopped that save the lives of many pregnant women and infants who would have otherwise not survived from preventable diseases or illnesses. It came to a point that we needed helping hands but nobody was ready to come so we have to bear the brunt of stress through long working hours”, she said.

She was closed to the late Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, the overlord of Dagbon killed in 2002 during the Yendi Chieftaincy dispute that ensued between the two royal families, Abudus and Andanis. She delivered many wives of the king, cooked and dined with them. She also told a fascinating life story of the late Ya Na who she said was great even after his death.

Though Ya Na’s life and death has become a state property Madam Agartha who enjoyed the friendly relationship with the slain king narrated her personal experience with the late king, the miracles that happened before, during and after his death (full story coming up later).

The Principal Superintendent Midwife Nurse said when everybody including medical experts was running away from Yendi Township for their dear lives she stayed to help pregnant women and children to survive with illnesses because her profession as a nurse is a sacrificial and service God, mankind and the state.

She still handles pregnancy related cases, renders HIV/AID test and counselling to pregnant women. She provides free maternal education on mother to child transmission and prevention. Soon women in Yendi and surrounding would miss her broad smiles and friendliness as she is preparing to retire two months from now.

Madam Agartha is one of the few hardworking health professionals who have not been fully recognized for their contribution and passion for work and dedication to service, and immense contribution that help to improve health service delivery in the region. In 2004 she was given a certificate and wall clock by the regional health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) as an award.

She however wonders if upcoming nurses and health professionals are in the job because of the incentive packages in the profession or just for the fun of it. She advised them to serve with humility, honesty saying nursing is a sacrificial job.

Hundreds of pregnant women and infants in northern region still lose their lives to preventable diseases, lack of health professionals, ignorance and illiteracy, poverty and transportation difficulties because of the inaccessible road network in the region.

Some deaths at health posts in the region are caused by unprofessional conduct or misconduct by some health professionals who lack passion for lives and whose aims are to make financial gain from the service and succumb to bribery and corruption and extortions.


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1 Comment

Reply Florence
12:04 PM on June 27, 2011 
Wow this piece is wonderful of her, God richly bless her.
But am waiting for the full story and what is the meaning of 'Na-pag'?