Childbirth Needs More Medical Intervention Here

pregnant africaThere's a lot we take for granted in this country. I'm not saying our health care system is perfect or anywhere close to it, but compared with South Africa's Sierra Leone, where surgeries are performed by the light of cellphones and flashlights, we have it pretty dang good. Soon-to-be moms and kids, particularly: Thanks to unsanitary conditions, malaria, and more, Sierra Leone is one of the world's most dangerous countries for pregnant women and small children.

In America, we have the luxury of being able to take a step back from medical intervention during childbirth -- in Sierra Leone, they're still too far away from having access to enough medical intervention. Here, we worry that hospital care will equal unnecessary complications. There, conditions at home are risky, too, and hospitals aren't even an option. Slowly, though, that's beginning to change.

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A $35 million program dedicated to eradicating the prohibitive fees required for women and children to receive care at clinics in West Africa is already saving a significant number of lives: There's been a 61 percent decrease in mortality rates among women having "difficult" pregnancies, and a 214 percent increase in the amount of kids under 5 getting health care at facilities.

The numbers are definitely encouraging, but in reality, the situation is still beyond what you or I can even imagine: "Clinics" are crowded, concrete bunkers; 54 gynecologists are needed to cover the nation's case load but only 4 gynos exist currently. There are 2 pediatricians working in a nation of over 5 million people. For those of us born and raised in the United States, the situation is nearly incomprehensible.

Again, I'm not saying our health care system is perfect or that pregnant women don't have a tough time here, too, on various medical fronts. But damn, thinking about how much worse off they are in other parts of the world sure puts things in perspective a little bit.

Does learning about unsafe conditions for pregnant in other countries make you feel lucky?


Image via hdptcar/Flickr

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