Locals say Oberabic Health Center is ‘in the bush’. Although there’s plenty of forest around, that’s not what ‘in the bush’ means. It means a long way away. A long way from healthcare. A long way from electricity. A long way from prosperity. There’s no place to deliver your baby safely within a 15km circle of Oberabic. In some directions its 30km. If you’re in labour, even 5km can be too far to walk.
Tonight, Adong and Acan pace the maternity room. Then sit. Then lie. Then pace. Hands on hips. Arched backs. Their husbands, sisters and mothers watch on. Its 9:30pm at night, and the labour pains start to bite.
At 3:00am, superstar combined nurse/midwife Chris delivered Adong’s baby. Everything went smoothly, but its not always the case. The most important intervention which stop mums and babies from dying, is to have a skilled attendant deliver the baby. Chris knows how to use drugs and equipment when things go wrong. Chris knows when the situation is so bad the mother needs to be sent to hospital.
Adong is 23, and this is her 3rd baby. When Acan delivers in a few hours, it will be her 8th. Before she goes home, Chris tries to convince Adong to use family planning so she can at least have a break from new kids for a while. She says no for now, but promises to come back in 2 weeks to discuss it again. Will she really come back? Chris is confident.
Chris is confident because he does an amazing job helping women take control of their lives. In the last year over 600 women have received some kind of family planning at Oberabic. ‘In the bush’ at Oberabic you have more options for family planning than in many clinics in the developed world. If you want to wait for 1 month, 2 months, 3 months. 2 years, 3 years or 5 years Chris and the team have you covered!
The irony is, the most helpful (and cost effective) thing we can do for these women is not to deliver their babies, but help them have less. If like Acan you have 8 kids, you don’t get education or serious paid work, and you are utterly dependent on your husband. You may also put your daughter on the same path. If you have 3 children, you’ve got a chance, and so does does your daughter who you can afford to send to school.