The Importance of Contraception

Even as we were still reeling from the “avalanche” of donations prompted by Nicholas Kristof’s column last week, he – again – mentions Edna Hospital in his Sunday NY Times column.

The context this time is sad. A woman died in Somaliland of complications from childbirth leaving 8 children without a mother. She is among about 350,000 women who die in childbirth worldwide every year.

Kristof uses this event to illustrate the need for greater availability of birth control. This, even as Republicans in Congress want to eliminate funding for all sorts of birth control.

Her death was infuriatingly unnecessary – and I felt doubly saddened when I met some of her eight orphans.

There are any number of ways that Ms. Hassan’s life could have been saved. She had an off-the-charts hemoglobin level of just 4, reflecting a stunning level of anemia. A trained midwife could have given her a deworming pill and iron supplements early in the pregnancy, addressing that anemia and strengthening her. Later, Ms. Hassan developed a complication called eclampsia that would have been detected if she had had pre-natal care.

Yet maybe the simplest way to save her life would have been contraception. If Somali women had half as many pregnancies (they now average six births), there would be only half as many maternal deaths. But modern contraception doesn’t exist in this part of Somaliland.

Please click the button below to read the full article.

Mothers We Could Save

Nicolas Kristof, NYT

Birth Control in Afghanistan

Encouraging news out of Afghanistan:

Some mullahs in Afghanistan are distributing condoms. Others are quoting the Quran to encourage longer breaks between births. Health experts say contraception is starting to catch on in a country with the world’s second highest maternal death rate.

Afghanistan has one of the world’s highest fertility rates, averaging more than six babies per woman despite years of war and a severe lack of medical care. Awareness of, and access to, contraceptives remains low among many couples, with UNICEF estimating 10 percent of women using some form of birth control.

But use of the pill, condoms and injected forms of birth control rose to 27 percent over eight months in three rural areas — up to half the woman in one area — once the benefits were explained one-on-one by health workers, according to the report published Monday in Bulletin, the World Health Organization’s journal.

The full Associated Press article goes on to mention, “Afghanistan’s maternal death rate of 1,800 per 100,000 live births is topped only by Sierra Leone worldwide, according to UNICEF. The U.S. rate is 11 per 100,000 births.” Edna Adan contests that statement:

Regarding Maternal Mortality, Somaliland has never had a maternal mortality assessment since the 1982-1991 war when at that time the country had the highest mortality rate. Since whatever facilities that were in place at that time became destroyed, and very little has been done to improve matters, I am sure that these two countries have far better health facilities and far fewer problems than our nomadic women who are poor, illiterate, malnourished and without any rural health services in place.

That is why we are training community midwives to go to some of these remote locations where they have never had even a midwife before. My aim now is to train 1000 community midwives if God in His Grace gives me life to do it in the next six years.

And, some more news today:

Today is a big day for us here. This afternoon, we the graduation ceremony for 45 students who were the third group of General Nurses trained in our hospital. Among them are 11 boys who are the first male student nurses trained at our hospital and who were great students.

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