My husband’s tearful face at 5.20pm that fateful Tuesday evening has been engrained in my memory. A myriad of emotions went through me as I tried to make sense of the reality that my beautiful Nyilale was not going to be coming home with us. There is no way anyone can understand that type of emotion unless they have been through it, an experience that I would not wish even on my worst enemy.
Expecting a baby into the family brings one to a certain level of emotional high that one expects to crystallize into the tangible sight of delivery. Every woman would tell you what a climax delivery is to nine months of being in a state of expectancy. What one never makes room for, especially in a case like mine where there had not been the slightest problem with the fetus or with the mother during pregnancy, this thought of not being able to take my “bundle of joy” home with me kept, and still keeps hitting me like a brick. I screamed and screamed, tore my hair, hit my head against the bed, all that you could think of, hoping against hope that I’d wake up from this nightmare, feel my Junior still in the stomach and be heading to the labour ward in a matter of hours.
I eventually stopped crying for a moment, gave the doctor my piece of mind (to let him at least hear the senselessness of what they had done) and asked to have my baby dressed up and brought to me. I needed to hold him, kiss him, curdle him and kept hoping, rather illogically, that he could by some miracle, still come back to life. It was hard for Thomas and I to accept that the Junior that had kicked and been so active in my stomach, would not be coming home with us. What were we going to tell his sisters? Especially Nana Alluah, Lois and Angela who had kissed and sang to him in my stomach since the day they felt him kick.
As I sat up unable to sleep due to the myriad of emotions during the night following the loss of Junior, I had this strong conviction.
“No couple should have to go through what we’ve just been through, especially when an otherwise healthy baby has to die under such preventable circumstances. Our son’s death could not be in vain. Our Nyilale Vaah Junior died, so that the many such cases which go unpublished and unheard of would be heard. Its about time we demanded the best level of care from our health service providers, and ask that those who are not called to do this duty stay out of the field forever”.
When Thomas visited me the next morning in the hospital, I did not waste any time in telling him what I felt. Coincidentally, he had also felt strongly about the need to do something about our experience, to prevent other couples from going through the same. Within days, we had more than enough people ready to be board members. The Vaah family with the support of a number of colleagues and other professionals concerned about the prevalence of poor attitude, incompetence and negligence in maternal and child health delivery in Ghana, formed the Vaah Junior Foundation for Better Maternal and Child Health. Its main goal, to help reduce or eradicate the canker of preventable maternal and neonatal deaths occurring in hospitals in Ghana through the following initiatives:
- By serving as a mouthpiece / platform for families affected by medical negligence, especially as it pertains to maternal and neonatal care,
- By creating awareness among the Ghanaian public on the prevalence of professional negligence in maternal and child health care delivery in the country, an issue that had hitherto been a taboo subject.
- By helping to provide legal backing for families affected by such acts.
•Instituting an award scheme to reward and recognize exemplary service by maternal and child health personnel and service providers;
- By advocating for legislation to require proper and continuous monitoring of maternal health care delivery facilities and personnel in the country; as well as other related legislation as needed to ensure improvement in maternal and child health delivery in Ghana and
- By providing targeted training on good customer care and refresher training in monitoring of women in labour to health personnel involved with maternal and child health
The Foundation was launched at the British Council Hall in Accra on May 22, 2010, attended by people from all walks of life, including healthcare professionals equally eager to see positive changes occur in their profession.