Thursday, July 2, 2015

How Community Builders, Anhart Foundation and CoBI are Improving Maternal and Newborn Health Care in DRC

In 2013, I came face to face with the reality of how women in rural areas die from pregnancy and childbirth related complications. I had a chance to visit dilapidated maternity wards in the Uvira villages of DR Congo and the remote Kasanga villages of Tanzania. A Community Builders intern from Canada, David, narrated to me how he witnessed a good number of deaths of babies in just one night as he and Bertha Kisuda of CNI were on a night shift in the hospitals in Sumbawanga, Tanzania. It was heart breaking.
Women are the most vulnerable at childbirth and children are vulnerable in DR Congo, especially up to five years of age. Global measurements of maternal death and child mortality are among the highest in DR Congo. The Save the Child Society rates DR Congo as the most dangerous place o

n earth to be a woman, even though a small number of the other nations such as Chad and Central Africa Republic have slightly higher rates of maternal death.

Most maternal deaths are preventable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known. All women need access to antenatal care in pregnancy, skilled care during childbirth and support in the weeks after childbirth. CoBI has constructed three maternity clinics, in Bukavu, Uvira and Mumosho. On average, one baby is born every day in the clinics (approximately 350 births per year). This local statistics fits with birth rates in DR Congo (34 births, per year, per 1,000 population).  Thus, in a DR Congo community such as Kahungu which has 12,000 persons, approximately 400 births would be expected annually.  The statistics indicates that almost all the births are occurring at the maternity clinics.

The clinics have a small reception room, a delivery room and room with four beds for after care. The maternity clinics are reducing maternal death and child mortality. CoBI nurses state that in conditions of extreme poverty in DR Congo, 4 out of 10 women will die in child birth in their lifetime without adequate maternity health supports.  Published statistics for all of DR Congo place the risk at 1 in 10, however, in villages of extreme poverty the higher death rates are plausible, especially if a village reaches a 10% or greater risk of death for each birth and if total number of pregnancies reach a total of 10 or more.

The clinics also promote child health and reduce the overuse of local dispensaries which dedicated most of their resources and space to maternity issues before the construction of the maternity centers.  I have compiled some picture of the newly built maternity clinics.

Below are some of the pictures of the new maternity wards in DRC. 

This is a picture of 'Helga Schmidtke maternity ward', constructed in Kabanda village of Mumosho.

This is a picture of a maternity ward constructed in Uvira.

​This is a picture of delivery and ordinary beds donated to 'Helga Schmidtke maternity ward', constructed in Kabanda village of Mumosho.

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