Dr Hawala, a female surgeon giving hope to women in Wete

12Oct 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Dr Hawala, a female surgeon giving hope to women in Wete

“WE receive a number of severe maternal near-miss cases, but no woman dies in our hands. Despite the challenges, together, with my team, we use our expertise to save the lives of mothers and infants”, said Dr Hawala Saleh,-

-, Acting Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Wete referral hospital in Pemba Island.

She said with support from the government and partners such as USAID Boresha Afya project which is facilitated by Jhpiego, plans are to make Wete referral hospital among the best health facilities in the Zanzibar archipelago.

Narrating, she said the trainings offered by Jhpiego have helped to improve their skills and knowledge specifically on how to prevent expectant mothers from developing postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) as well as its treatment.

Among others, Eclampsia and PPH are among the major causes of maternal and infant deaths. Over bleeding or postpartum hemorrhage is referred to a situation where a mother loses more blood within the first 24 hours after childbirth.

“We had several cases of deaths caused by PPH, we are thankful to the trainings as women are no longer dying following childbirth. The few pregnant women losing their battle to survive are those coming from peripheral health centers while at critical condition”, she said the training that was initially conducted in the 2017/2018 adds to what she learnt in the class.

Dr Hawala remembers a recent incident where she saved the life of a 39-year-old mother—Moza Mattar Hemed who developed secondary PPH just 48 hours after giving birth at the hospital.

She said Moza gave birth at the facility in August this year and was discharged after two days, but she was brought unconscious the following day.

She said: “Moza’s blood level had dropped to 7.9 compared to 10 on the first day she was admitted. I used my professionalism to assist her regain consciousness and she was again discharged after five days”.

Dr Hawala explained on another maternal near-miss case where Baya Baraka Mbarouk (30) a resident of Pobwe village in North-Pemba region was brought unconscious at Wete hospital on March 12th 2019.

“I wasn’t on duty on that particular day; I had just passed through only to find a seven-month pregnant girl laying on bed unconscious due to over bleeding. I joined the team and we immediately resuscitated her before conducting surgery to remove the baby”, she narrated.

She said Baya had lost 1.5 liters of blood due to bleeding, but her life was saved in less than two hours. She said the client is now connected to all the staff in the gynecology department and that she is required to report at the hospital for consultations twice a month.

Statistics shows that almost 250 women give birth at Wete referral hospital per month. PPH is the major cause of death at the facility whereas the number of women who died while giving birth in 2018 was 5 in 2017 and 6 in 2018.

The number of women with PPH was 75 in 2018 while the number of those with Eclampsia dropped to 22 last from 40 in 2017.

Pre Eclampsia cases dropped to 43 in 2018 compared to 65 in the previous year.

A mother of three, Baya Baraka Mbarouk said: “I lost my baby, but the doctors save my life. I am grateful to all the hospital staff especially those in the labor ward for restoring my smile”.

She said: “It all started in the afternoon of March 12, 2019 when I felt fever and later on started to bleed frequently, a situation that led into unconsciousness”

Baya said her relatives brought her to Wete hospital where she was well received at treated accordingly.

Meanwhile, Moza Mattar Hemed hailed the improved maternal services at the hospital where she was treated and regained consciousness within hours.

“I started bleeding just a day after I was discharged from the hospital, I told my mother to call my husband who responded quickly and rushed me to the hospital”, said Moza.

Jhpiego’s Project Program Adviser in Zanzibar, Lucy Ikamba said they have been working to empower health care providers since 2016 through technical work groups, capacity building and facilitation of meetings to discuss the status of health services provision in Pemba and Unguja Islands.

Ikamba noted that capacitating of health care providers have resulted into improved skills and establishment of learning corners that are used for in job trainings.

Supported hospitals include Mnazi Mmoja, Makunduchi and Kivunge in Unguja. Others are Chake Chake, Wete and Abdallah Mzee hospital in Pemba.

“Through our trainings, caring of expectant mothers during the third term of labor has improved. We also partner with other stakeholders to sensitize the community on the importance of giving birth at health centers”, said Ikamba noting they have trained 125 health care providers from lower facilities in March this year.

By 2020, the government, through the Health Sector Strategic Plan III 2016-2020 (HSSP IV)) aims to cut down maternal mortality ratio to 292 per 100,000 live births from the current 556 deaths per 100,000 live births.

In the same plan, the government seeks to reduce neonatal mortality rate from 21 to 16 per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality from 54 to 40 per 1,000 live births in the next two years.

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