News

    Saving the Lives of Mothers and Babies

    Two babies in the MSF primary health care clinic in Mogadishu, Somalia. (2008)
    Two babies in the MSF primary health care clinic in Mogadishu, Somalia. (2008)
    Joe DeCapua

    A medical aid group says every day about one thousand women worldwide die in childbirth or from complications related to pregnancy. Doctors Without Borders says most of those deaths can be prevented. It’s released a new report on the problem to coincide with International Women’s Day, March 8.

    The report is called Maternal Death: The Avoidable Crisis. Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, says at least 15 percent of all pregnant women worldwide encounter a life-threatening complication. It says pregnant women are even more vulnerable during conflicts or crises.

    Critical moment

    Catrin Shulte-Hillen is the head of MSF’s Sexual and Reproductive Health International Working Group. She’s also a midwife. She said delivery is the most critical moment for saving the lives of both mother and child.

    “When it goes right it’s beautiful. It’s a wonderful event. It brings you to tears because it’s such a beautiful event. When it’s wrong it’s chaotic,” she said.

    Chaos comes from complications.

    “They have such a symbiotic situation. If the mom is bad, the mom is exhausted; the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen. The baby suffers also. So the problem is as soon as you have a delivery that doesn’t go very spontaneously, very easily. The uterus doesn’t want to contract. She starts bleeding. You concentrate on the mother. The baby doesn’t breathe. That’s where it all accumulates,” she said.

    Five main reasons are given for potentially deadly complications: hemorrhaging, sepsis or infection, unsafe abortions, eclampsia or hypertension and obstructed labor.

    High standards

    Shulte-Hillen says it’s uncommon for a woman to die in childbirth in developed nations. But when it does happen, health officials want to know why.

    “Today in any hospital if there’s a maternal death there’s a commission that’s put up to investigate exactly what went wrong. That’s how seriously we take the fact that a woman dies in childbirth. And if you look at that in comparison to what happens in a large part of the world where it just gets completely unaccounted for,” she said.

    Shulte-Hillen said MSF has high standards for maternal care, even in conflict zones or areas hit by natural disasters.

    “We expect that in an MSF hospital you do not lose mothers. And we do the same thing we do in Europe. We have a commission. We get the whole staff together and do an analysis (on) why did this happen,” she said.

    The Doctors Without Border’s report stated the solution is straightforward: skilled medical staff, drugs and equipment. It’s based on the group’s programs in 12 countries, including South Sudan, Haiti, Pakistan and Somalia.

    In conflict zones like Somalia, health care infrastructure has been destroyed. Little medicine is available and trained medical professionals are often forced to flee. Similar conditions existed in Ivory Coast in early 2011, when political violence spread across the country. MSF describes Afghanistan as one of the most dangerous places in the world for a woman to give birth.

    First things first

    Shulte-Hillen said if or when the situation stabilizes, then comprehensive post-natal care, family planning and health education can be provided.

    “The best that we can do as a medical organization is to be there today with assistance that is lifesaving,” she said.

    Doctors Without Borders provides obstetric care in about 30 countries. It says in 2010, its medical teams delivered more than 150,000 babies.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora