When Sophon, 22, felt progressive pain seven and half months into her pregnancy, she was scared. Worried about the safety of her unborn child, she decided it was best to go straight to the health centre rather than stay at home or consult a traditional birth attendant so she asked her husband to drive her there on his motorbike. When she arrived at Lumphat health centre , the two midwives took care of her and assured her she would be ok.
Complications during pregnancy are not uncommon. Maternal mortality remains high in some provinces in Cambodia and neonatal mortality accounts for 50% of all deaths of children under five; this is why CARE aims to make sure that when complications arise, health centres know what to do to keep the mother and child safe. With Partnering to Save Lives, CARE is training midwives and building connections so that women like Sophon receive the care they need and that complications do not end in tragedy.
Training covers key skills which midwives have identified as important to their work.Recent topics have included newborn care and infection control, as well as discussing common challenges they face and how they each deal with difficult deliveries. This continued professional development also allows staff to maintain pride in their work and so raise overall standards in their health centres—whether though maintaining better standards of hygiene or improving their beside manner when dealing with patients.
“There used to not be enough staff on duty at the health centre, but when I went there were two midwives; they immediately took my vital signs and did a full examination,” says Sophon. “They told me I had an amniotic rupture. I was very anxious, but the midwives helped to reassure me – I find that staff at the health centre are much more friendly than before.”
A key element of CARE’s work with midwives in Ratanak Kiri province is to build links between health staff in the area so that when complications arise, women are able to get help quickly. This helped to get Sophon the care she needed as swiftly as possible.
“The midwives told me they wanted to send me to the referral hospital in the provincial capital as a precaution to make sure my baby was ok,” she says. “I was unsure but they told me there are many skilled doctors and midwives there who would take care of me and that they have equipment there for a caesarean section if needed. The organised all the details for the referral and called an ambulance from the hospital to collect me.”
The prompt action of the midwives at Sophon’s health centre meant that her story has a happy ending; her baby boy was born healthy and well. She says that she has noticed more and more women from her community now go to the health centre to have their babies. Sophon has also noticed that the number of deaths during delivery have reduced.
“I hope that the services available at the health centre will continue to improve so everyone in the community can remain healthy,” she concludes.