Monday, 25 February 2013

Kahama Hospital - Labour & Delivery Wards/ 2013


Tanzania's healthcare crisis is acute There are approximately 1,300 doctors to cover Tanzania's population of 40 million - that is just one doctor per 30,000 people. The Kahama District Hospital has three doctors for around a million people.

On each One Person trip we recruit professional and non-professional volunteers to ensure that we are on track, to identify needs, distribute items and meet with families and organizations. Our medical volunteers work in the hospital and Dr. Glen Burgoyne assists the doctors in training the hospital's medical officers who, because of the shortage of doctors provide the bulk of medical care and perform medical procedures. You can meet Glen and the 2013 volunteer team on the Feb 10th blog.

Tanzania has experienced a substantial reduction in child mortality rates in recent years, but  according to the World health Organization (WHO) one in nine children still die before their fifth birthday.  Most newborn deaths are due to infections, birth complications and premature births, even babies who are just a few weeks premature often do not survive because of the lack of trained staff and simple resources.

Maternal mortality remains staggeringly high due in the most part to haemorrhages, infections, unsafe abortions, hypertensive disorders and obstructed labours. With your help - we can assist Dr. Andrew in turning these figures around in the Kahama Hospital.

The following is an excerpt from Pene's entry on One Person's travelogue on Planet Ranger  re. the labour and delivery wards.

Pene with the children from the Amani Clinic.

"Having a baby in Kahama is very different experience than having a baby in Canada. Typically, the mother arrives on the step of the L&D (equivalent to a large school portable) in active labour and is assigned to a very small tiled ‘cubicle’— similar to a large shower stall. In the cubical there is an old stretcher with a very thin, old, black plastic mattress.

The mother then proceeds to make her own bed by throwing down a large sheet of plastic followed by a large piece of fabric which she has brought from home. Here the mom remains flat on the stretcher, unsupported by family members, and minimally supported by medical staff (due to the workload) until the delivery of her baby. Following the delivery, the mother is up, dressed, and discharged to the next “station” (post-partum ward) within 20 minutes or so of delivery. Should there be no room in the postpartum ward the mom will wait outside in the courtyard, often sitting on hard cement, or in the grass/dirt until being discharged home within 2-4 hours post-delivery. If a mother has a caesarean section, she will be transported from the OR to a higher risk post-partum ward where she and her baby will be assigned to a single bed that she would very likely share with another mother and baby! Here she would stay for 3 days-- similar to Canada.

Although this is a very brief and general description, the consensus is that the Kahama nurses have amazing skills. Most nurses have two years education and rotate through the hospital to a different ward every 6 months. The six month assignments are determined by the Head Matron. In other words all nurses are expected to work in all areas and specialties in the hospital. What is clearly evident is that nurses are lacking equipment that make the nursing job easier and assessments more accurate. For example, IV poles that will elevate to appropriate heights and stand without falling over, doptones to listen to fetal hearts, neonatal stethoscopes for small babies, digital thermometers to quickly do temperatures.

As far as the mothers of Kahama -  we are all in complete amazement and admiration of the stoic, accepting, non-demanding and non-sense of entitlement behaviour these women display. Clearly, as much as we can offer from Canada, we are learning and receiving from this amazing community and hospital in Africa. "

To make a donation send a cheque to The One Person Project, 10108 Julia Street, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z5, donate on-line or email me. (Denise.)

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