Saving Lives in Nigeria

Saving Lives in Nigeria

Sister Mary Bernadette Eboh instructs expectant mothers about childbirth.

During the 2018 Lenten season, we’ll share the work of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from around the world. We hope you in turn will share their work with your family, friends, students and faculty by email or by posting each Lenten Snapshot on a bulletin board or via Facebook or Twitter Image (right): Map of Nigeria.

BACKGROUND: Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with more than 170 million people. It is a nation composed of more than 250 ethnic groups, 380 languages, and a diverse range of cultural and religious beliefs and practices. Roughly half the population is Christian and half are Muslim. 

Militant violence, including the kidnapping of schoolgirls in 2014 and in February 2018, made headlines around the world. Diseases spread easily through unsafe, unclean water and inadequate sanitation systems. Recently, cases of Lassa and yellow fever (viral haemorrhagic fevers similar to Ebola, malaria and typhoid) have been reported. Although there is a national health system, 90% of the people do not have coverage or money to pay for medication or health services.

This week’s Lenten Snapshot highlights the work of our Sisters at Notre Dame Medical Centre in Amoyo, Nigeria. Sisters Rose Ndianefo and Mary Bernadette Eboh serve as nurses and midwives; Sister Antonia Uwakwe is a community health worker. Together they work with a doctor, laboratory technician, two nurses’ aids and two health care workers to care for the people of the area.

In Amoyo, one patient, Bello, nearly died as a result of gastroenteritis. A mother of four children, she was rushed to Notre Dame Medical Centre after being sick for four days. She was barely able to talk; she was very weak and dehydrated. According to her husband, she had been using herbs to self-treat her illness, which is a common practice. When her husband saw that Bello was almost at the point of death, he brought her to the hospital. Asked why he did not bring her sooner, he said they had no money to pay for medical treatment. Caption: Sr. Rose Ndianefo, SNDdeN treats Bello at Notre Dame Medical Centre.

After being admitted to the hospital, Bello underwent a medical assessment and her treatment began. The laboratory tests revealed not only gastroenteritis, but also typhoid and malaria. Bello was hospitalized for five days and eventually got better. Bello is very grateful for her medical care; she thanked the Sisters and members of staff, saying, “You saved my life!” 

The Notre Dame Medical Centre is open 24 hours for emergency care. It offers maternity care, nutritional counseling for mothers with new babies, treatments for hypertension, diabetes, gastro-intestinal problems and various diseases such as hepatitis B, malaria and typhoid as well as immunizations and vaccinations. 

The medical staff also offers classes on preventative health care and child welfare. Last year, in addition to treating 100 new patients and 284 returning patients, the Medical Centre started a program for orphans and vulnerable children. Although resources are limited, the medical staff provides home care for the elderly and assistance to two outreach clinics, including a mobile clinic. At the Medical Centre, the policy is to treat everyone, regardless of their ability to pay for medical services. Caption: Sr. Rose Ndianefo gives a hepatitis B injection to a patient, while Sr. Antonia Uwakwe prepares the next injection.

Nigerians have hope when they come to Notre Dame Medical Centre for care. The people in Amoyo recognize God’s goodness in this health care ministry of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. St. Julie’s spirit is reflected in their dedication to alleviate pain and suffering for underprivileged patients, living in poor situations. The Notre Dame Medical Centre is a special place where our Sisters are called to work. 

Bello’s story shows people there is hope for getting well in Amoyo and the Sisters continue to bring the good news of their good work to those in need in Nigeria. Caption: Sr. Mary Bernadette Eboh instructs expectant mothers about childbirth.

During the Lenten season, we are most grateful for your support in helping our Sisters in Nigeria provide medical care and clean water while they educate for life.