The Matrons by The Lake
Saving the Lives of Daughters, Sisters, and Friends
Today, over 800 women will die in childbirth.
Most of them live in rural parts of aid-dependent countries with limited access to healthcare.
Hundreds of thousands of women lose their lives, and staggeringly over five million babies die every year in what can only be described as a reproductive health emergency.
The situation is unacceptable, especially when considering that the vast majority of all deaths are entirely preventable if given proper care before, during and after childbirth.
The maternal mortality rate dropped by almost 50% between 1990-2015, illustrating that while huge challenges remain, a future where all women can enjoy safe deliveries really is within reach.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for the majority of preventable deaths in childbirth. The Central African nation of Chad has the third highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Despite ambitious efforts by the Ministry of Health, the country is struggling to meet health needs amid drought and food insecurity. Working in support of the Ministry of Health, International Medical Corps provides health, nutrition and food security services in several of the country's regions.
In the Lake Region, our organisation supports the Baga Sola Hospital including several health clinics. International Medical Corps also mobilises and trains a network of ‘matrons’, community health workers who inform women about good childbirth practices and young child feeding. This work is possible, thanks to generous funding from the European Union (ECHO).
Well-respected leaders within the community, women like Fatima and Zara carry out crucial work in their neighbourhood. Aside from the skills they pass on, they also raise awareness about the services at the hospital and medical clinics, encouraging women to give birth assisted by medical professionals. Increasing the number of births in medical facilities is important enough, but Zara and Fatima also build long-lasting trust between International Medical Corps and the local community we serve.
When our team met with Zara and Fatima in November, we discussed the challenges and improvements since the programs started and also why it is so important to be a matron.
'Many women are vulnerable', Zara said - but almost all women in their village go to the medical clinic now, she added encouragingly. Being a matron is important, they both said, because it involves sharing important messages to women and it can save the life of 'their daughters, sisters, and friends'.
Without question, women like Fatima and Zara, are vital when assisting remote communities and the work carried out by International Medical Corps would not be possible without them.