Join Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) tonight at 8pm for an online discussion of the challenges of delivering life-saving maternal health care to women in the countries where we work. The panel will include MSF obstetrician/gynecologists Severine Caluwaerts and Veronica Ades and MSF midwife Ruth Kauffman; the three have worked in countries throughout Africa as well as in Central and South Asia and Oceania. Of all maternal deaths worldwide, 99 percent of them occur in developing countries—the direct result of the lack of adequate health care systems. MSF and other humanitarian organizations cannot replace national health care systems, but our teams work to avert maternal and newborn death as much as possible. The task is not an easy one; everything from poverty to a lack of roads, the inaccessibility of contraception, and in some places, the lower status of women, all work against their meeting that objective. Our panelists will share stories of trying to save lives in the face of such harsh realities and discuss what they’ve learned from the challenges.
The town of Burco (also written as 'Burao'), in Somaliland, has the largest public hospital in the area and serves at least 350,000 people. Last year, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical teams joined Ministry of Health staff at this eight-ward hospital to start providing high-quality, free medical services. Now, Somali staff work alongside MSF staff from as far away as China and Denmark so that patients with medical emergencies receive quality health care. Maternal mortality rates in Somaliland are among the worst in the world, and the hospital's maternity ward is by far the busiest department in the hospital. A team of experienced midwives and doctors run this busy unit, which has seen a substantial increase in the number of admissions over the last year.
MSF delivered 2,262 babies at Gondoma Referral Center in 2011—many of them would have died if they had not received medical care. As a result, the maternal mortality rate in Bo district is estimated to be 61 percent lower than in the rest of the country.