Maternity in Africa

by Paolo Patruno

Every year in Sub-Saharan Africa 280,000 mothers die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth and, for every woman who dies, many others suffer injury, infection or disability.

Every year 1,5 million African children are left without a mother.
A mother's death is a human tragedy, affecting families and communities. Her death endangers the lives of a surviving newborn and any other young children. A mother's death makes it harder for the family to obtain life's necessities and escape the crush of poverty.
A great many of these deaths are preventable, when women have access to quality prevention, diagnostic, and treatment services. Most maternal death and morbidity can be prevented when pregnancy and childbirth are attended by skilled health professionals (nurses, midwives or doctors).

These services often are not available for women in poor and remote communities, far from the nearest health services. Moreover, reproductive health issues affect mostly young women and girls: in many communities girls still marry when very young and information and advice about contracepton is poor or non-existent.
A woman suffers receiving an injection for local anesthesia because she needs some sutures after delivering.
A baby just delivered lies next to her mother's feet. Women have to bring plastic and bed sheets as the hospital doesn't provide these.
A nurse using a razor blade to remove sutures from belly of a woman who had a cesarean section.
A woman in postnatal ward, after delivering, lying in bed in serious condition. She is receiving medical treatment, oxygen, and a blood transfusion.
The labor ward is just a room where women deliver one next to the other, without any folding screen or privacy.
Traditional birth attendant (TBA) assisting a young woman delivering in a poor labor ward in TBA’s home.
Pregnant women have to work, taking care of house and family almost till the day of delivery.
A mother can give only some fruit to her 5 kids for lunch. Food is never enough for everybody, and she is pregnant again, waiting for another baby.