It’s a sticky, sweltering day in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the mood at the Boo Nsuba Health Center and Maternity is light and cheerful. More than a dozen expectant mothers have gathered in the shade under the center’s veranda, chatting and laughing as they await their prenatal checkups and a demonstration on the IMA Safe Motherhood Kit™.
“Safe Motherhood Kits are very useful,” says Claudine, the head nurse at Boo Nsuba, displaying a stash of kits in the delivery room cabinet. “We use them for every birth.” Each Safe Motherhood Kit™ contains a set of clean and sterile supplies to help prevent infection, a common cause of illness and death for new mothers in the Congo.
The Boo Nsuba Health Center manages between 30 and 50 deliveries each month, and the staff is grateful to have these essential supplies on hand. Though they have easy access to sterile gloves and gauze, the health center relies on Safe Motherhood Kits™ to supply the rest of the items. Nurse Claudine says they especially appreciate the sterile umbilical tie, the plastic sheet—which creates a barrier to help prevent contamination—and the soap and washcloth. She explains that as soon as a woman arrives at the clinic in labor, she is asked to take a shower to ensure the cleanest birth possible.
The health center has even managed to find resourceful alternative uses for some of the kit items. Nurse Claudine explains that the absorbent underpads are sometimes used as maternity maxi pads, which can be hard to find in the Congo, and any leftover sterile scalpels are saved and used for male circumcisions. During the Safe Motherhood Kit™ demonstration, the mothers are especially excited about the kit’s baby clothes. In addition to being endearingly small, the baby hat, pajamas and blanket also help to keep the newborn warm in those important hours after delivery, and they serve as a special gift that encourages women to deliver at the health center with a Safe Motherhood Kit™ and help from a trained nurse rather than at home.
Back in the Boo Nsuba maternity ward, first-time mother Kibete proudly shows off her healthy baby girl, snuggled into her new Safe Motherhood Kit™ outfit. Kibete hasn’t decided on a name, but then again her daughter is only four hours old, and they’ve had a long morning. Both look peaceful and content as they rest and recover side-by-side on the cot. “The women here are very happy to have Safe Motherhood Kits™,” says Nurse Claudine as she walks through the maternity ward, visiting each mother and baby. “They even use the plastic bag to take the reusable items home.”
IMA Safe Motherhood Kits™ are provided by generous donations from individuals, churches, service clubs and other private donors. You can provide an entire kit for a gift of just $25.
Thirty-one year old, Happiness, who lives in Nyamongo in Tanzania traveled 31 miles from her home to Tarime District Hospital because she was in desperate need of HIV testing and cervical cancer screening. Unfortunately, the Sungausungu Health Centre that is closest to where she lives has limited medical capacity.
After being screened Happiness said, “I enjoyed the screening because I wanted to know my status for HIV and cervical cancer and I trust in the procedure by the way I was examined thoroughly.” Happiness also stated, “The staff explained the procedure to me and eased my fears.” Happiness concluded by saying, “I encourage women to be screened for cervical cancer because I thought it would be painful but it wasn’t painful at all.”
Happiness learned of the screening through her church. She brought four other women along with her and has since motivated many others to make the trip for cervical cancer screenings.
Happiness and the four women she brought with her are just a few of the many women who have greatly benefited from the cervical cancer screening and treatment available at the Tarime District Hospital. Your support helps screen more women in need of this life-saving screening.
Veronica’s face breaks easily into a wide grin. Seated on a bed next to her in the hospital, her mother laughs when she sees it.
If IMA-trained health workers hadn’t known to test for Bukitt’s Lymphoma (BL), that smile might have been a memory. Teeth in Veronica’s lower jaw had begun to loosen. The right side of her face swelled.
In March, Veronica was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma (BL), a highly aggressive childhood cancer that affects hundreds of children in Tanzania each year. It can cause extremely disfiguring swelling of the jaw, eyes, face and abdomen making swallowing and even blinking painful. BL attacks quickly and can be fatal within weeks if not treated promptly and appropriately.
Fortunately for Veronica and hundreds of other children with BL, IMA is providing health workers the training and chemotherapy drugs needed to treat this cancer.
After several treatments, Veronica’s tumor is beginning to shrink and doctors expect her to make a full recovery.
Most people associate cancer with the developed world but, according to the World Health Organization, 70% of people in the world who die of cancer are from low and middle income countries.
Late diagnosis and a limited supply of medicines can be a major factor in higher death rates in the developing world.