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"I Feel So Happy I Have Saved Lives": Battling Maternal Mortality in Sierra Leone
December 18, 2012
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) delivered 2,262 babies at Gondoma Referral Center (GRC) in 2011—many of them would have died if they had not received medical care. As a result, the maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone's Bo district is estimated to be 61 percent lower than in the rest of the country.
According to Addario, there are some great challenges in photographing maternal health as a subject matter. “Giving birth is one of the most intimate things a woman does in her lifetime, and documenting that can be very invasive,” she said. “Scenes are often graphic, with a great deal of nudity and blood, and I try to be as respectful as possible while capturing the story.”
Addario says her strongest memory of her visit to Sierra Leone, was of one woman, Zainab, who arrived at GRC suffering from severe bleeding after having delivered a child at home. “When I went over to her bed, I stood over her, just thinking about what a tragedy her imminent death was, simply because her blood loss was preventable, had she had the proper medical care from the beginning. I was watching her unconscious, with labored breathing, wondering whether she would survive. Every so often, she would open her eyes and stare at me. And then close them again. Five days later, she passed away.”
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.