The Magburaka Maternal and Child Health Clinic, photo courtesy of The Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation
Healthcare in Sierra Leone, West Africa, a country of almost 5 million people, has always been dreadful as far as I can remember growing up in Freetown, the capital city. The Time magazine, June 14, 2010, story of Mamma Sessay titled The Perils of Pregnancy: One Woman’s Tale of Dying to Give Birth by Alice Park reminds me of some of the painful cases of maternal mortality, which has growingly worsened in this African nation. A co-worker, Meagan Manas of Women’s Ministries at the National Council of Churches (NCC) approached me to respond to Mamma’s story, which shows graphic images of this fourteen-year old, who hemorrhaged to death while giving birth. In watching the photo gallery, I was angry, yet, relieved to know that maternal mortality and the issues of cultural beliefs and family pressure, teen pregnancies, survival, patient care, access to resources, fistula, and sometimes death are common and critical concerns for support and discussions, especially in communities of faith.
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This Article (whose title we stole for our own blog post this week) from Rev. Jill Wiley, follows the quilt made as part of Operation Healing Hope–a project of the United Methodist Church to raise awareness of fistula, and raise money for the cause. What fun it has been to follow this project!
Traditional Birthing Attendants in Liberia pose with the “Operation Healing Hope” quilt that has traveled nearly 50,000 miles promoting a campaign to end obstetric fistula, a birth disorder affecting millions of women, primarily in poor countries. (credit: Rev. Jill Wiley, UMC)
this report from TIME magazine this week? Although maternal mortality affects many more than the one woman who dies, sending shock waves out into her community, the victims of maternal mortality cannot speak up for themselves and advocate for the changes that would have given them life. That is, not until TIME documented one woman’s story of dying to give birth. Mamma Sessay, age 18, tells her own story–even though she is dead. Let us listen well and take heed.
Not so prominently featured on the same page, is this photo-essay about the perils of childbirth in Afghanistan. These hidden stories must continue to be told!
This report from Women’s e-News gives a run-down of this week’s Women Deliver conference which focused on Maternal Health. Energy is building towards the G-8 summit in Canada later this month where gender equality will be front and center. Stay tuned!
Check out this article from Reuters about Bill and Melinda Gates’ pledge of $1.5 Billion towards women’s and children’s health worldwide. Great, right? Ban Ki Moon says it could take as much as $45 Billion before 2015 to make a difference.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 2, 2010
Jon Houston, Maloney, 202 225-7944
Kate Dickens, Castle, 202 225-4165
Reps. Maloney, Castle introduce bill to prevent and treat obstetric fistula
-Legislation could save lives of millions of women and babies globally-
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) last week introduced legislation, “The Obstetric Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope and Dignity Restoration Act of 2010,” H.R. 5441, which would authorize funding to prevent and treat women suffering from obstetric fistula, a horrific and debilitating condition that occurs in women after prolonged labor, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Arab States.
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