The day was April 5th,2017. 06:00 am, I heard a hard knock on my door, it was something I had never experienced in two years living in my neighbourhood. Neighbours always called or texted before coming over, maybe it was someone from a utility company I thought, only it wasn’t. It was one of my neighbours.
I opened the door and I looked into his eyes. What I saw was something I had never seen before. That moment, I knew something was wrong. I leaned in closer to hear what he was trying to say and I couldn’t quite get anything from his broken voice with a baby crying in his hands. He said, “Brother, My name is Chilufya, I am your neighbour and this is my baby Chris”. Of course, he knew I knew that he was my neighbour, but the way he said it meant something more.
He kept looking at baby Chris while rocking him, hoping that Chris would stop crying while he himself sniffled with one tear moving down his cheek. From that moment I started to piece the information together. I told him to come in to talk more. We talked for hours starting from how his life was over to how the baby wasn’t going to survive without the mother who had just passed while giving birth at the hospital; she didn’t have access to maternity care when she was pregnant and by the time they got to the hospital it was too late for her.
If only she could’ve been attended to by experienced medical personnel, if only the hospital was closer to our home, if only she didn’t have to spend most of her time selling vegetables at our makeshift market so we could eat, she could’ve found time to go for antenatal check-ups, she would have still been here. He said. If only.
All these ifs lowered me into endless thoughts, from “Will Chris survive in a world with limited access to healthcare?” but the one that stood out the most was “what can I do so that no one won’t have to get into Chilufya’s situation unnecessary and also not to see what I saw in Chilufya’s eyes. I questioned my career choice for a second to why I never studied a health-related course, but shortly got back to my senses and realised that I didn’t have to study medicine to significantly contribute to advancing the health agenda. It was then that I dedicated my Social Research, Data Analytics, and Monitoring and Evaluation skills to increase the quality of health services, the utilization of high impact public health interventions by bridging the evidence gaps in these programs.