|May 21, 2012 • VOL. 50, NO. 9 • Oakland, CA|
MARY DAVENPORT, M.D. PHOTO
Magnificat Maternal Health: Mission
to protect women in childbirth
Rev. Simeon Achonu Omale proudly shows photographs and video of Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church, in rural Nigeria. The lively congregation is predominately female.
It is the mission of the church to do something about that, said Father Omale. The Magnificat Maternal Health Project is trying to save them, one mother and child at a time.
With the assistance of the project's medical director, Dr. Mary Davenport, who has an obstetrics/gynecology practice in El Sobrante, funds are being raised to not only replace antiquated equipment, but more importantly, to train the next generation of midwives.
Maternal mortality rates can be changed, Davenport said. She pointed to Chile as an example of a country where maternal mortality has decreased over the last 30 years.
Ninety-nine percent of maternal deaths worldwide happen in developing nations. Many of those deaths are preventable, Davenport said, citing pre-eclampsia, hemorrhage, sepsis, constrictive labor and hypertensive disorders.
The people of the region are of Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and indigenous African beliefs. All are served by the prenatal clinic. In Nigeria, faith-based organizations provide 40 percent of the health care.
"The human family is one," Father Omale said. "It doesn't matter where you come from. Let life be saved."
The hospital and clinic see 6,000 maternity cases a year. Clinic days coincide with market days, as many women travel great distances for care. More than 1,000 will return to the clinic to deliver their babies, but most will give birth closer to home.
There is a distinct advantage to delivering at the hospital. "We can 100 percent prevent HIV transmission from mother to baby," said Davenport.
Re-establishing a training center for midwives will provide more qualified health care workers to assist those women in outlying areas, as well as at the clinic. The government-built school, which had operated for a dozen years, needs equipment and textbooks, which the project is working to provide. The goal is to train 50 midwives a year, a grand opening ceremony took place in March.
The cost of that equipment is estimated at $15,000 to $18,000, with shipping costs adding $8,000.
The cost for maternity care is modest by U.S. standards: $20 covers prenatal care and $15 covers the cost of a birth.
The cost of a mother's death cannot be calculated.
"I buried a mum three weeks ago," Father Omale said during a November visit. "She left a beautiful baby girl behind."
back to top
|Copyright © 2011 The Catholic Voice, All Rights Reserved. Site design by Sarah Kalmon-Bauer.|