Two women, Violet Mbala Ekor and Helen Isieg, who were delivered of their babies at a prayer house in Ikom local government area of Cross River state have been reported dead. The death, according to our findings, was due to complications after delivery.
The deceased were said to have received ante-natal care in the Primary Health facilities in Nkarasi, Abanyom ward in Ikom local government area but choose to visit the residence of one Prophetess Eka Maria to be delivered of their babies.
Abanyom ward is the largest in terms of the number of villages and health facilities in Ikom as it consists of two autonomous clans, 26 villages and also boasts of a record 14 health facilities. However, it was alleged that the prophetess had been preaching against the use of government health facilities in the area hence her high patronage.
“They have been going for ante-natal care in the health centre at Nkarasi-1 but this Eka woman usually tells them that they should not deliver in the health centres as the health facilities are used by witches and wizards,” a senior health staff alleged.
The staff stated that the community people told him the prophetess “always advised the pregnant women in labor to come with only one person, mostly their husbands, as others are witches.”
One of the victims, Helen Isieg, a native of Obubra, died on Wednesday after delivery and thereafter suffered post-partum haemorrhage. The delivery was her fourth child and the baby died a few minutes after her. She has since been buried in the community due to the war in her community which has claimed several lives.
Another victim, Violet Mbala Ekor, it was gathered, had gone to the church and when labour pangs came, she was asked to stay and deliver. She did and when there were complications, the Traditional Birth Attendant (TAB) who is the prophet called the Health Officer at Nkarasi Health Centre who told them to take her to the clinic.
When she called the health workers on Wednesday morning again, they insisted that they should take the deceased to the facility but they still did not and she died with the baby dying shortly after her.
The other victim, Violet Ekor, registered at the Health Post in Nkim, 30 seconds away from her home but while about delivering, decided to go to the said Eka lady and she died there at about 12.00am on Thursday after delivering a baby girl at about 11.00pm on Wednesday.
As at the time of visit, her body was being prepared for burial while her husband, Odey John, who lives in Edor was visibly in tears and could not fathom how he lost his wife about an hour after delivery.
But the woman in question, Eka Maria Innocent John Odo said she was trained in church to deliver women and denied telling the women to stay away from health centres as she always enlist the help of professionals when there is crisis.
“I was trained in my church, the Apostolic Church, on how to attend to women in labor. It is a gift from God,” she said and added that: “When there are challenges, I call Nurse Juliet and Nurse Rose to come and attend to them but I don’t tell them not to go to health centres as they always go for ante-natal there but only come here for delivery.”
This reporter later gathered that the nurses she was referring to were actually community health practitioners who are acting as volunteers in some health facilities around Abanyom ward. When asked if she will like to be trained by government as a professional Traditional Birth Attendant, she declined comment.
She said she had no idea how many women had delivered successfully in her house, neither are there records of death and did not demonstrate knowledge of any ante-natal, natal and post-natal care despite saying she holds a ministration service for pregnant women every Wednesday from 7 – 9:00 AM where they are advised to fast so that she can ‘see vision’.
She has also begun her ministry; Supreme Light Church which is a dark room about 10 feet by 12 feet in size. But the Primary Health Care Coordinator in Ikom, Mrs. Evelyn Nkom, said she needs to safe through the Ward Development Committees (WDC). The WDC was inaugurated in Abanyom ward headed by Mr. Fidelis Ndago who pledged to ensure women work hard to bring women to deliver in the facilities.