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A community midwife saving lives in Yemen as conflict rages

UNICEF Yemen/2018
© UNICEF Yemen/2018
Warda arrives at the home with essential equipment.

By Salwa Al-Madhaji (National Yemeni Midwives Association) and Dr. Najwa Al-Dheeb

Mare’b, 10 May 2018 - Health care from a skilled provider is important for monitoring pregnancy and reducing the risks for both mother and child during pregnancy, delivery, and within the postnatal period. In Yemen, many factors can prevent women from accessing the necessary medical advice or treatment they need. Due to conflict, less than half of the health facilities are functioning, health workers have not been paid in over a year. In addition mothers living in far flung areas can’t easily get to the few functioning facilities due to high transport costs and sometimes cultural barriers.

Warda is one of hundreds of community midwives working in remote and poor communities. She works in a district of Mareb governorate and amongst her daily tasks, she monitors pregnant women and post-delivery mothers and babies so that she can prevent, detect and manage complications. If there are really difficult cases, she can refer them to the nearest health facility to receive the necessary interventions. Warda also plays a key role in educating community members about health issues and family planning methods, as well as dressing wounds, checking blood pressure and giving injections.

Usually, labor and delivery take place without any problems. But problems can sometimes develop suddenly and unexpectedly. Regular visits by community midwives like Warda, can help anticipate problems and improve chances of having a healthy baby and safe delivery.

Recently, Warda was called urgently to help a pregnant woman in danger. Alia, lives in the remote Aljouba district where there are no health facilities, making giving birth all the more dangerous. Alia's delivery caught everyone unaware. The baby came out, without warning, but the placenta stayed behind which caused intense bleeding. As soon as the call came, Warda instantly travelled to help, but it was a difficult journey as no public transport arrived and the road was in a very bad condition.

Luckily Warda arrived just in time. Immediately she gave Alia the necessary medication and massaged the uterus until the placenta came out and the bleeding stopped. 'I had to reassure the mother too as she was very distressed,' said Warda. Without this support, it is likely the mother may not have made it through, leaving her baby without a mother.

UNICEF works to reduce the number of deaths among mothers, new-borns, and young children by improving the access and quality of health care in rural districts. Thanks to the generous contributions of donors, such as the Government of Japan, UNICEF is working together with the National Yemeni Midwives Association to build capacities of community midwives, so that they can be on hand, in communities, around the clock, and deliver life-saving support to mothers and newborns.



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