Darmour – June 2017
In 2015, more than 16,000 children under the age of five died every day—that’s almost six children every second. By the time you finish reading this, another 1,800 children will have died. Most of these deaths occur in undeveloped countries; more than half of them could have been prevented with access to simple, affordable interventions and treatments like vaccines.
As bad as it may seem, it is getting better. MBF hospital and clinic partners around the globe in countries like Haiti, Kenya and the DR Congo, are working hard to provide vaccines and affordable treatments, at little to no cost, to mothers and children in their poorest communities. Many of them even have mobile clinics to reach children who would otherwise be at risk.
At just a year old, Darmour is a beautiful baby, but very sick. She had been sick with a cold and cough for “many” days her mother said, and wasn’t getting any better. Early one morning, Damour’s mother scraped together the money for a motorcycle taxi to take them to the Darbonne Maternal and Child Health Clinic in Léogâne, Haiti. The clinic was more than an hour’s drive—four hours by foot! When they arrived at the clinic, Damour’s fever was so high that the doctor gave her acetaminophen and sent her mother to shower her with cold water outside the clinic. Damour’s mother was very worried. This was her little girl; her only child.
When they went back in to see the doctor, Damour was lethargic and her respirations were at 58 (normal respirations for a child of that age are 20—30). Her temperature was at 102.5 °F and she had vomited the medicine given earlier. The doctor listened to her lungs and diagnosed pneumonia. If left untreated, Damour would likely die.
Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death in children worldwide, accounting for 15% of all deaths in those under the age of five. Pneumonia can be both prevented and treated with low-cost, low-tech medication and care.
The doctor wrote a prescription for an injection of antibiotics, more acetaminophen and more antibiotics to take at home by mouth when the vomiting stopped. After waiting in line at the pharmacy to get the medications, Damour and her mother moved to the treatment room where Damour had to endure the injections. As much as Damour’s crying from the needle pained her mother, she knew her baby would be well again soon thanks to doctors, staff and partners that support the Darbonne Maternal and Child Health Clinic.
Dieulaine – April 2017
Dieulaine, was a young, pregnant woman from Port Au Prince. She was excited about the birth of her first child and had been saving money to pay a local midwife so that she could give birth at home. But her husband died suddenly and soon family members were suggesting the death that took her husband might also come for her baby. Now she had to use the money she had saved for the birth to pay for her husband’s funeral.
She knew her time was approaching. The pain in her abdomen had increased and she felt something was wrong. Dieulaine consulted a neighbor midwife who confirmed the baby was in the wrong position and told her she needed to give birth at a hospital under the care of trained health care providers. Dieulaine sought out NGO’s that had remained in Haiti, even six years after the earthquake. But she was not considered “high risk” by their standards and was refused treatment. Nor could she afford the private or even government hospitals in Port Au Prince. She found herself alone and afraid, waiting for what should be a joyous occasion with a sense of dread.
Hôpital Ste. Croix was her safe place.
Another of Dieulaine’s neighbors convinced her, that even though Hôpital Ste. Croix (HSC) was a far two-hour trek to Léogâne, it was a good hospital and would be a safe place for her baby to be born. The very next day, Dieulaine went in to labor. Her neighbor got her to HSC, but Dieulaine was still stressed and fearful. When admitted, the HSC staff assured her that the money she did have would be enough for the deposit. Dr. Datus, head OB/GYN for HSC reported that the baby had moved into the correct position and all would be alright. Despite a rough beginning, Dieulaine gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
What does patient care look like in the developing world? For a poor pregnant woman it can be a clean, safe place to give birth when she has no other options. For a child it can be life-saving antibiotics that cure them of pneumonia and help them live long past their fifth birthday. For a father and husband, it can be sutures and medicine that prevent a severe wound from crippling him for life. For a community, it can be diagnostic equipment that detects illnesses long before they become debilitating and help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.
All of these things fall in to the realm of patient care. And in the developing world, all can be difficult for hospitals and clinics to come by, and all can be financially crippling for the average family. Dieulaine’s story would have had a very different outcome if HSC, MBF’s partner in Haiti, did not have the resources to deliver her baby. Both mother and child could have perished, and most certainly would have been driven even deeper in to poverty.
Thanks to MBF supporting partners who are committed to providing patient care to some of the poorest communities around the world, Dieulaine and her child were given a chance for a healthy beginning.
Kamonji – January 2017
For fifteen-year-old Kamonji the news was bleak. The baby she carried was too big and created a high-risk situation. Having gotten pregnant by a boy in her class, she was a young girl lost in her circumstances, being cared for by the nurses at Moma Hospital, an MBF partner in DR Congo. After a grueling 16 hours of labor, Kamonji gave birth to a health baby boy, delivered by C-section. Both mother and son were able to rest on a sturdy wooden bed, with a new mattress in the renovated maternity ward, all of which was possible because of MBF’s work with partners like you.
With all her physical needs being met by the caring hospital staff, the question was—what happens next? Our desire is not only to bring hope in the form of quality health care to people like Kamonji, but also to build a spiritual ministry for those on-going needs that only God can meet. Imagine this young girl, her mind racing with questions unanswered, the worry and anxiety of someone so vulnerable being responsible for a precious new life. It would make sense that she felt love and compassion from the care she and her son received in the hospital, but without an introduction to God’s grace and mercy, she would still feel empty and hopeless. This is why maintaining the Christian component in patient care is critically important. God’s attitude about the value of a human being is far different from that seen in the secular world.
We are all made in His image and we are all representatives in His world. At MBF we are constantly looking for ways to strengthen and reenergize the spiritual component of our hospital partners. Within every mission hospital and health care organization is the need for helping and enabling its staff to develop and maintain an active spiritual life and a personal mission for ministry. But the challenge is that health care organizations in developing countries seldom have access to the resources they need to engage and educate their staff. Whether it is providing training or basic materials like bibles, MBF is committed to helping our hospital and clinic partners develop ways to create effective ministries and incorporate the Gospel into their daily patient care process. For sustainable health care to be a reality, we must include spiritual ministry with quality patient care.