“Maternal health remains a staggering challenge, particularly in the developing world. Globally, a woman dies from complications in childbirth every minute.” — Jessica Capshaw
One of the most effective ways to make sure children are born and grow up healthy is to take care of mom. Almost 70% of our consults are with female patients, and more than half of them are of child-bearing age.
The women in our region face some especially challenging health issues:
- Chronic anemia (low iron) from poor nutrition, hookworm and multiple pregnancies
- Women—and their daughters—manage almost all household tasks and cooking, as well as working on the family farm
- There is virtually no access to contraception or protection from sexually transmitted diseases in the region
- Few women get pap smears, and even fewer ever receive the results. We regularly encounter women with cervical cancer and uterine tumors.
- Zika has established itself in the province
- Almost no women ever receive a pre-natal ultrasound
- Almost all births occur in very remote circumstances with no possibility of advanced care if an emergency arises……
….and emergencies DO arise. Post-partum hemorrhage, breach births, umbilical cord strangulation, post-partum sepsis, and damage to pregnancies after falling are all potential catastrophes the Ngäbe women face with few resources, usually without ever seeing the inside of a hospital.
Our team provides pre-natal vitamins and assessments for preventive care, and work hard to maintain a reliable supply of medications to manage OBGYN issue. We conduct women’s health eduction and training, and work with community midwives (parteras)We carry portable ultrasound and are able to offer pre-natal scanning, as well as examination for ovarian cysts, uterine tumors and other obstetric and gynecology issues. For women who need more advanced care, we help coordinate and pay for transportation, appointments, procedures and labs, and sometimes someone to travel with a worried patient or help advocate at the hospital.
Small investments in Women’s Health result in huge benefits in the future of the people we serve. Whether it’s $5 for iron supplementation for a pregnant and breastfeeding woman, or $500 to coordinate removal of a large uterine tumor, supporting Women’s Health is a high-impact intervention. Healthy, strong women means healthy, strong communities!