Sunday, June 13, 2010

Life, birth and death: The horror of poverty

This video from Time, on Maternal Mortality in Sierra Leone, the story of Mamma - one woman's journey from pregnancy to death is a heart wrenching portrayal of what is happening to too many women in
impoverished circumstances.

The Time photo montage shows a photo of young woman with a glazed, far away look on her face, intravenous therapy in her hand, lying on a trolley bed, a baby on a chair beside her.  The photo's caption says:
"Birthing Room
Forced to marry at age 14, Mamma Sessay first gave birth when she was 15. Three years later, at the age of 18, she gave birth to the first of a pair of twins near her village, but when the contractions ceased for the second child, she traveled by canoe and ambulance to the Magburaka Government Hospital, where she waits, in the photo above, to deliver".
Read more at Time Photos: Maternal Mortality in Sierra Leone

The video of Mamma Sessay's life and death experience is recorded and reproduced here:

Video: Maternal Mortality in Sierra Leone

Poverty and the associated lack of clean water, sanitation, good food, contraception, respect for women, education, family planning, antenatal care, being married too young, having babies too early - the list goes on and on, is the real problem. The other real problem is social apathy and feelings of helplessness about women's lot in disadvantaged situations. Labour and birth are peak and demanding activities. Women do best when they are well nourished, well hydrated, informed, have good midwifery care during pregnancy, labour and postnatal period, are having babies when they want to, have been well prepared for labour and birth, are able to labour and birth with loved ones around and able to access good medical care if and when required.

The article in Time, called The perils of pregnancy is horrific, but the emphasis is wrong. The emphasis should be on the perils of poverty.


Why are our governments spending our hard earned tax dollars on war for oil, when we could spend our money on making life better for our brothers and sisters across the world. With a different way of looking at world affairs we could save the lives of women like Mamma.

There are some good signs. According to Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, in her opening address on behalf of eight organizations at the Women Deliver 2010 Ministers Forum Washington, DC, USA  on the 7th June 2010

"Domestic resources and donor funds are making a real difference to the lives of millions. The number of children dying before reaching their fifth birthday has been falling for several years. We are now seeing early signs of progress in reducing the number of women dying in pregnancy and child birth, in addition to the achievements in HIV, TB and malaria".
and added

"This progress is most welcome, but is fragile, uneven, inequitable and inadequate. Far too many women and children continue to die needlessly"

calling for a world wide, coordinated effort and finances, including:

"government leadership of inclusive partnerships at country and global levels to design, implement and monitor the commitments and promises of all stakeholders".

Letter writing and political activism required. 

What do you think?

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