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Umar’s deadly fever 3: a touching piece with lessons on female education

Dr. Akin-Onitolo A.



continued from part 2

18th June
The woman was crying last night, outside the ward when she thought no one was looking, her bony shoulders heaving. Umar was irritable, I was tired, so I decided to get some air and left him to my mother. Although I have not been as friendly as I once was toward her, I could not leave her out there like that. So I went to hold her, her small frame fit in my arms like my 14 year old daughter’s. She was speaking to herself the way you speak to yourself when life whips you off your feet like a sandstorm. There was a test she needed to do, she had phoned her husband many times but he was unwilling to pay for it. She had no job to support herself and no money stowed secretly for a time like this.
Maybe I should not have, I gave her some money anyway. Little did I know that someone had seen me hold her. I was about to return into the ward when my mother rushed out. The sudden slap she gave me was dizzying. Before I could collect myself, she was harassing the poor woman and calling her terrible names. I don’t know what I would do with my mother, I was so embarrassed.
Maybe that is why the woman left today despite incomplete treatment. Her husband turned up out of the blue. You should have seen him fat cheeked and healthy. He spoke with the doctors and insisted on taking his family away. Everyone was pleased but I was not. I worry about the woman and her daughter. I doubt they will get proper treatment as it is. But I did not get to think about them for long because the doctors said they have found the cause of Umar’s fever. My heart skipped two beats when I heard this. Somehow, I am afraid for what it may be.

Why women and girls need to be educated

It may be surprising to you that education is not available to everyone. Because of war and crises like in Syria or cultural traditions and many more reasons, some children are denied their basic right to education. It is even worse for female children as worldwide, 62 million girls are not privileged to go to school. Fewer than 1 out of every 5 girls makes it to secondary school, and fewer than 1 in 10 girls actually graduates from secondary school.

With education, a woman is empowered to work and earn a living with which she can care for her family. The chance of her infant (a baby less than one year old) dying is reduced and the child is 50% more likely to live past age 5 because she knows when to get help/treatment, and can read prescriptions and access information relating to her child’s health. Girls’ attendance in formal school is also associated with lower rates of HIV/AIDS because she is better able to protect herself.
Not only does educating a woman correspond to educating a nation, it also corresponds to better health for a nation.

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Dr. Akin-onitolo A. is a graduate of the University of Lagos whose mission is to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) using health promotion and improved health literacy. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who had her elective at King's College London. Hugely interested in travel, meeting people and generally being creative, reading and writing fiction are a few hobbies you could find her engaged in during her spare time. Catch up with her on Twitter @Akinonitolo and Instagram @t_onitolo