In the thick vegetation of Snake Island in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State lies Igbologun, a riverine community in its natural state.
The community, populated by fishermen and petty traders, lacks the basic amenities of life even as it is close to the bubbling Apapa axis, a major gateway to the nation.
Igbologun which is not more than 30 minutes ride by boat from Under-Bridge Coconut Jetty, Apapa, is enmeshed in its swampy topography, cut off from civilisation with the attendant absence of health and educational facilities and other social infrastructure.
Indigenes of the community are yearning for the establishment of a health facility and improved sanitation in their area to help to stem the tide of maternal and child mortality.
They expressed the belief that government’s presence will take care of the poor sanitation in the community and stem the habit of open defecation which often see the people, young and old, expelling faeces directly into the lagoon.
Their plight attracted the attention of a non-governmental organisation, Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS), which champions the cause of maternal, newborn and child health.
To present the community’s yearnings to the world, the NGO recently organised a tour of the community for journalists to showcase the absence of health and educational facilities as well as waste disposal system.
The tour brought to the fore the people’s challenges in accessing health facilities in neighbouring communities and the leading to maternal and child deaths, especially in hard-to-reach communities.
Mrs Abiodun Owo, Training, Research and Communications Officer, DevComs, told journalists that “for Igbologun community, the challenges of accessing maternal and child health services contributed to the increase in the rate of maternal and child deaths.
“These challenges are absence of health facilities, qualified medical personnel, practices and attitudes.
“The only and supposedly Primary Health Centre there, which is actually a maternity centre, has no qualified doctor, nurse or midwife.
“There is an urgent need for government’s intervention to prevent needless deaths of women and children in riverine communities,’’ Owo said.
A general physician, Dr Sodipo Gbolahon, who runs a private practice, is the only qualified medical doctor in Igbologun community of no fewer than 20,000 people.
According to Gbolahon, whose clinic is called “Igbologun Medical Centre’’, the situation in the community is pathetic.
“What we have here are small chemists, people who treat wit h herbs and Traditional Birth Attendants.
“So, there are frequent emergencies and complications, especially for pregnant women and children,’’ he said.