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.
When Jawaher fled the bombing in her native Sudan and crossed the border into South Sudan, she only took three of her children and the clothes on their backs. She was forced to leave her eldest child and embark on a month-long journey to a refugee camp where she and the other children would be safe. She is now being trained as a midwife assistant by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), but she really wants to go home.
Life is difficult in Mogadishu, despite recent improvements. More than 370,000 displaced people live in the city with limited access to health care, food and water. Pregnant women in particular are suffering: They give birth in difficult conditions, at the mercy of the slightest complication. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opened a hospital in Mogadishu in 2011, and the maternity unit has been full ever since. However in the Xadaar district of the city, MSF was recently forced to close its clinic, as security there is tenuous.
The autonomous island of Bougainville is slowly emerging from decades of conflict. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) set up medical facilities in Buin, a remote village in the south of the island, in June 2011. Admissions to the maternity unit, have steadily increased since the project's inception. Expectant mothers are referred by small clinics in the area. They spend several days here before giving birth to avoid traveling on rough roads during labor. MSF is also supporting an awareness-raising campaign to teach women about a new program for victims of sexual violence. Up until now, there has been no such treatment available in Bougainville.
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.
The people of Kaabong District, located in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda, have the unenviable title of being among the poorest in the country. Large parts of the population suffer from violence and chronic neglect—70 percent cannot access health care. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières' (MSF) purpose in Kaabong is to help strengthen government health services. Teams are supporting nine Ministry of Health centers and the district referral hospital. They also run mobile clinics to isolated areas, offering medical services to the many people who can't reach a health facility on their own.
In Malawi, MSF is working with the local health system to shift responsibilities from doctors to nurses and lay workers, in order to reduce pressure on qualified health staff. In this 5-part video-clip series, MSF demonstrates tools and models that could help make improved treatment accessible to many more. Between 8-10 June 2011, world leaders will meet in New York to decide on the future of the millions needing treatment urgently. By sharing this video, help us spread the word that there is NO EXCUSE for governments to leave 10 million people untreated! See www.doctorswithoutborders.org/stopthevirus for more info.