When Parters In Health/Lesotho (PIH/L) staff found Matsepiso (pictured above), she had barely survived 36 hours of obstructed labor at home without a skilled health care provider. Her pelvis was broken, her baby was dead, and she had developed an obstetric fistula—an abnormal opening—which not only prevented her from moving, but also caused her partner to reject her. Matsepiso was alone, and her life was ruined at age 19.
What Matsepiso needed was a proper hospital with surgeons, an operating theater and anesthesia, antibiotics and a blood bank, but there was no such thing anywhere near her village. After complicated negotiations with hospitals closer to Lesotho, PIH/L was able to arrange for free treatment in an Ethiopian hospital (an 8 hour trip by plane), where she remained for treatment for one year.
Matsepiso returned to her village and has since given birth to a healthy baby. Furthermore, she joined our team of community health workers, working with PIH/L to provide high-quality maternal care to prevent such injuries from happening again.
We cannot afford to medevac every woman who needs it, but we equally can’t afford for mothers to die in delivery, orphaning their other children to be raised—or not—by someone else. This is why Partners In Health works to improve the system that failed Matsepiso, by make it safer for women to give birth in the first place: by offering family planning services and comprehensive pre- and postnatal care, by getting women to clinics to deliver their babies, and by providing access to emergency obstetrical care so when a narrow young woman like Metsepiso is in difficulty, a doctor can intervene, save her life and save her child.
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