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.
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.
Usually the result of complications during delivery, a fistula is an opening between the bladder and the vagina, or between the rectum and the vagina. Women become incontinent, and are often shunned from their societies and families as a result. They can also suffer additional medical consequences. Access to pre-natal care and interventions to assist with complicated labor, including C-sections are essential to preventing fistulas.
An innovative partnership between MSF and the Zip Zap Circus school in South Africa helped children from Khayelitsha township and Cape Town who are living with HIV take the stage and soar on World Aids Day.