Lives devoted to humanity: Delivering as One in Kara Suu
KARA-SUU, Kyrgyzstan, 20 April 2011 - When Kanybek was 14 years old, his mother fell very ill, and he resolved to become a doctor. Many years have passed since then, and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge, but Kanybek Muratov has not changed his dream: all his life he has healed people. Now he is the head doctor of Kara Suu district hospital in Osh province, and he has 35 years of medical experience under his belt.
All this time, he has lived and worked in Kara Suu. Kara Suu district is one of the most densely populated areas in Kyrgyzstan. More than 350,000 people live there, and so there is very a high caseload for local healthcare institutions. In 2010 over 8000 babies were born in the maternity department of the hospital – the highest figure in the country. Unfortunately, so far the indicators for maternal and infant mortality in Kara Suu also remain high.
“We’re living in difficult times,” says Kanybek Muratov. “People experienced high levels of stress during last year’s violence, and that could not have failed to impact on their health, particularly among pregnant women. That’s why our main priority is the maternity house – the top of our agenda at the moment is trying to solve the problems of this department.”
The Kara Suu maternity department is one of six obstetric facilities included in a joint UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO (part of UN Delivery as One) programme to improve the quality of perinatal care and reduce maternal and child mortality. The implementation of the programme began in Kyrgyzstan in the third quarter of 2010. The project involves developing conditions that favour safe births in these medical institutions.
This includes procuring essential equipment and instruments; establishing temperature conditions comfortable for both women in childbirth and for new-borns; and giving women the right to decide for themselves which position to give birth in and who to choose as a birthing partner.
In many maternity houses, particularly in the south of the country, there is an acute problem in the provision of clean water, sewage and heating. One of the most important components of the programme is to create the infrastructure necessary to provide quality medical care.
But the most important part of this joint programme is to upgrade the professional qualifications of the obstetric institution’s staff, and to support a transition to a more effective, simple and affordable system of care for mothers and newborns, which will lead to a significant reduction in mortality figures. Among other things this includes psychological support for pregnant women, especially for those giving birth for the first time.
“It is very important,” explains the experienced Kanybek Muratov, “to be in a good psychological state. Births are always an extremely crucial and important moment in the life of a woman, and she should be confident that she is being assisted by professionals who have all the equipment needed to help her.”
A significant success of the UNICEF programme is that six neonatologists are now on duty around the clock in the maternity house, although only one year ago there was not one specialist. While around the country there is a deficit of such specialists, Kara Suu maternity house is fully staffed. Furthermore, as part of the programme, the doctors have undergone all the necessary training, including new-borns resuscitation.
“We are proud of our strong team,” the doctors now say of themselves; many of whom have been working here for over 15 years. “Everyone knows that we have low salaries, but we love our work because the most important thing is children.” Thus speak those who have sworn the Hippocratic Oath and dedicated their existence to saving lives and preserving the health of their patients.
Kanybek Muratov has four adult children. Two of them have followed in his footsteps – a son who works as an ophthalmologist in Bishkek, and a daughter who has trained to be an obstetrician and gynaecologist and has been working in Kara Suu district hospital maternity department for nine years.
Olga Grebennikova - Media Liaison Officer - UNICEF Kyrgyzstan