Mama Payang: “I Sensitise At least 1,000 People A Month”

Trained by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, the Multitask Community Health Worker with Ngong Integrated Health Centre in Benoue Division of North Region, is a true example of sacrifice - for public good.

“Mama Payang is so hard working. She sometimes uses her money to travel to distant villages to sensitise people - amongst others - on the need to consult and deliver in health facilities. She has directed many pregnant women to consult in Ngong Integrated Health Centre, thereby contributing in reducing deliveries at home,” says Bidima Jean. A volunteer tricycle-ambulance rider with Ngong Integrated Health Centre in Benoue Division, 82 km from Garoua, headquarters of North Region. Bidima’s tricycle-ambulance was offered by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, to ease the transportation of emergency cases to the health centre.

“Thanks to Payang, my work is facilitated. She calls me whenever and wherever there is an emergency case that needs to be rushed to the health centre. She goes around sensitising people in villages and gives them my phone number. In the case of emergency, they call me,” Bidima notes. The married, calm and composed mother of four seems to devote her entire life to sensitising on public health issues. Yet, she still finds time to carry out house chores as well as do farming.

It is therefore no surprise that Mama Payang, 40, is one of the most productive of the 21 Multitask Community Health Workers attached to Ngong Integrated Health Centre. Who were trained in 2018 by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF. To help implement the Maternal, Newborn and Infant Health Support Project, MNIHSP from 2018-2021. In all, more than 100 community mobilisers, vaccination agents and other volunteers who register people during vaccination campaigns, operate under Ngong Integrated Health Centre.

“I started as a Community Health Worker in 2009 after being selected by the Djaourou (local traditional chief) to go for training. I sensitise people on different issues like malaria, vaccination, sanitation, cholera, Covid-19, etc, through door-to-door visits,” explains Payang. Her sensitisation activities are eased by the project bicycle offered by UNICEF.

“Most people pay attention to what I tell them. I sensitise at least 1,000 people a month in neighbourhoods, the market, etc. I sensitise two days per week,” says the volunteer who regularly submits reports of her work to Ngong Integrated Health Centre. “I do not get any remuneration. But during health campaigns, we receive a token,” she adds.

“I love the work and my husband is not a hindrance. Instead, he is happy with what I do. I always begin sensitisation on any issue from my home,” says Mama. Adding, “I do not know for how long I will continue volunteering. Certainly as long as God grants me strength.”

Covering 18 villages with a population of 56,950 people, Ngong Integrated Health Centre was only constructed in January 2020. It formerly operated from the premises of Ngong District Hospital. Today, it handles an average of 30 deliveries a month. As against 10 deliveries before 2018. Thanks to the Maternal, Newborn and Infant Health Support Project, says Ahmadou Bouba, Head of Ngong Integrated Health Centre. Financed by the Islamic Development Bank. IsDB, the project receives technical backup from UNICEF and UNFPA.

“Two UNFPA-donated tricycle-ambulances enable us to transport pregnant women with challenges to the health centre for attention. We have also received medical equipment from UNFPA. Only last week (August 16-22, 2021), we received another set of equipment from UNFPA - including delivery kits,” Ahmadou discloses.

“Sensitisation has been stepped up after the training of former traditional birth attendants and community health workers by UNICEF. The “converted” birth attendants now counsel, direct and accompany pregnant women to deliver in the health centre. Instead of carrying out risky deliveries at home like before. UNICEF is indeed a longtime partner that has always stood by us,” Ahmadou Bouba, underscores with a grin.

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