Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Saving newborns in Burundi

A country that once suffered a long civil war has surpassed a milestone in health.

Burundi had a long civil war that lasted over a decade. Even though the war ended in 2006, many people still have untreated injuries from the war. Medicines Sans Frontiers set up a hospital in Burundi's capital to help treat these injuries, but found that more women were showing up than former soldiers. MSF then decided to turn the clinic into a maternal health ward.

The hospital's work has helped to contribute to Burundi's improving record on maternal health. The country has now surpassed the Millennium Development Goal on maternal health, cutting mortality rates by 75%.

From the Guardian, writer Clar Ni Chonghaile tells us more about the hospital.
In a report (pdf) released last week, MSF said the €1.8m (£1.5m) project in Kabezi, just outside Bujumbura, and a similar programme in Sierra Leone, had cut maternal deaths by up to 74% by providing free access to emergency obstetric care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In 2011, maternal mortality in Kabezi fell to 208 per 100,000 live births, compared with a national average of 800 per 100,000 live births. In Bo, Sierra Leone, the rate declined to 351 per 100,000 compared with 890 per 100,0000 in the rest of the country – a 61% decrease.
This means that in Kabezi, the millennium development goal – of reducing maternal mortality by 75% from national rates in 1990 – has already been achieved. MSF is confident it can replicate that success in Bo. "You do not need state-of-the-art facilities or equipment to save many women's lives," says Vincent Lambert, MSF's medical adviser for projects in Burundi.
In Kabezi, MSF provides an ambulance referral service for women suffering complications during labour or pregnant women at risk. The women used to be brought to the MSF Curgo clinic in Kabezi but since floods threatened the facility in November, the team has been based in CMCK. They hope to move back to Kabezi in a few weeks.
The cost works out at just over €3 per person in the Kabezi area, which is home to around 600,000 people. The Curgo clinic registers about 3,000 births per year, with 50% coming from caesareans.

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