A maternity waiting home in the Bolivian lowlands

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Latest Update

posted Oct 18, 2013 by WD Admin

Progress

Family Care International (FCI) held meetings with indigenous women leaders from our partner organization, CIMAP – Central de Mujeres Indígenas de la Amazonía, to discuss needs. The women identified the immense need to have a maternity waiting home near the main hospital of the Department of Pando that could accommodate both pregnant women and their families. In response, FCI provided technical assistance to indigenous women leaders from CIMAP to develop a proposal to improve the maternity waiting home. The women leaders presented the proposal to the Minister of Health of the Department of Pando. As a result, the Minister committed to refurbish the maternity waiting home. Work is to start immediately. Once this is complete, FCI will purchase the equipment for the home with the funds generously donated by Catapult contributors. This will give pregnant women and their families a safe, culturally appropriate place to stay during the days and weeks before going into labor to ensure that they will be near the hospital before giving birth.

Risks and challenges

FCI has a close partnership with indigenous leaders from CIMAP, and this project is based on needs identified by the women themselves, and has the full support of local health authorities. The Department of Pando has secured federal funding to ensure the presence of qualified doctors and adequate access to skilled obstetric care. One of the risks is that the rainy season, which runs from October to March, has started and it’s possible that it could cause some delays in refurbishing the maternity waiting home.

Get personal

Many women in the region are directly touched by the need to have access to skilled obstetric care and personally know a neighbor or family member who has died during childbirth. Recently, a woman from a small indigenous community two hours away from the hospital, had signs of pre-eclampsia during her seventh month of pregnancy. She made the difficult journey in a rented vehicle to the hospital, where she spent three days and her condition was treated and temporarily stabilized. The doctors recommended that she stay in the hospital longer, but the woman did not feel comfortable there – physically or culturally - and decided to return to her community. A week later, she died as a result of convulsions caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure. This tragedy has really shaken the community and was one of the main reasons CIMAP leaders identified the need for a comfortable, culturally appropriate, waiting home for women with high-risk pregnancies, and their families.

Next steps

Once the maternity waiting home is ready, FCI will purchase culturally appropriate supplies with the funds generously donated by Catapult contributors. In the meantime, we will continue working with CIMAC leaders to follow up on government commitments for the maternity waiting home.

FCI will also continue to work with providers and local authorities to ensure that quality and respectful care, adapted to the cultural needs and expectation of indigenous women, are offered at the hospital.

  • Health
  • Maternal health
  • Reproductive rights

 

In the poor, remote villages of the Amazon, women die from treatable childbirth complications because they can’t make it to a health clinic in time.

Why we care: Bolivia has the highest maternal mortality in South America, and indigenous communities have the highest maternal mortality in the country.

How we're solving this: Equipping a maternity waiting home, so indigenous women have a safe place to stay near the hospital as their due date approaches.

Along the rivers of the Bolivian lowlands, many pregnant women have little or no access to basic reproductive health services. In Bolivia, the country with the highest maternal mortality rate in South America, even the most common childbirth complications can turn fatal. In these remote communities, nearly two-thirds of all maternal deaths occur at home, or as the woman makes the long and difficult journey to a health facility. When the rivers flood in the wet season, traveling quickly to the clinics becomes almost impossible and women die from complications as they try to get to emergency care.

To address this barrier, Family Care International (FCI) is working with local health authorities and women’s groups to equip a maternity waiting home, near the regional hospital in the town of Puerto Rico, in the Pando Region of Bolivia. Pregnant women and their families will be able to stay at the home in the days and weeks before going into labor to ensure that they will be near the hospital before giving birth. Once it is equipped, the home will be available to 1,000 women of reproductive age and their families in the area. The maternity waiting home will be especially crucial for women giving birth in the wet season, when traveling to the hospital is the most difficult. 

When you donate to this project, the money will go directly to buying the equipment for the maternity waiting home, including beds, fully equipped kitchens and other culturally appropriate supplies needed to make the women and families feel comfortable. For many pregnant Bolivian women, getting to a healthcare facility often means the difference between life and death. Ensuring access to the hospital is a huge step in the fight to reduce maternal mortality in the region.

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