Zambia: Challenges in a Medical Remote Areas

Under the scorching heat, a pregnant woman is making a 5 hour journey by foot to the hospital to give birth. The woman goes into labor while she is still making her way to the hospital, and gives birth on the road without anyone to help her. This is a story from a health center officer in a sub-district only 20km away from Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. AAR Japan reports the current situation and its activities in Chisankane community. 

One health center for 10,000 people

For the 10,000 people living in Chisankane community, there is only one medical facility – the Chisankane health center. The furthest residence in the community is 75km away from the health center. Furthermore, as there is no means of transportation, the people in the community have no choice but to walk the distance. It will be difficult for any woman who wants to go to the clinic for pregnancy, child birth and child rearing, to make the journey. After conducting a hearing, AAR Japan found that 8 in 10 women experience child birth without the support of a skilled birth attendant and many women do not receive adequate prenatal care. "If possible, I would like give birth at a medical facility. However there is no transportation… and even if there is someone with a vehicle, I cannot afford to pay them" one woman in the community said.

Women congregate around the mobile clinic (April 13th, 2016)


Laos: Saving the Lives of Mothers and Children

The infant mortality rate in Phongsaly Province, a poverty-stricken province located in a mountainous region in the northern part of Laos, is at 120 deaths per 1,000 live births (of children under one year of age). The death of one in eight infants is caused by premature birth and infectious diseases. The infant mortality rate in Phongsaly is the highest in Laos. Although the data is less accurate, we found that an extremely high number of maternal deaths occur from postpartum bleeding and other related complications.

One in Four Expecting Mothers Receive Prenatal Examinations… Some Give Birth on Their Own 

There are many reasons as to why mothers do not receive appropriate examinations or do not deliver at health centers. These include: lack of, or frequent, malfunction of medical equipment; lack of, or misplacement, of medical tools such as scissors and forceps; shortage of disinfectants; and poor sanitation conditions. Furthermore, pregnant mothers do not make the time to visit hospitals for examinations because they are pre-occupied with farming, or they do not have appropriate education on pregnancy and are thus unaware of the importance of prenatal examinations. In fact, only one in four expecting mothers receive prenatal examinations and only one in five pregnant mothers choose to give birth in medical facilities. A survey of a village, whose health center is only 1 kilometer away from the residential area, found that all pregnant mothers chose to give birth at home; and of those pregnant mothers, 10% of them gave birth on their own and without the assistance of others. Since last fall AAR Japan has been actively involved in providing education on pregnancy, labor and child health in the Phongsaly Province so that women may be able to have a safer childbirth.
Local hospital employee learns how to listen to the heartbeat of an unborn child utilizing a Doppler ultrasound equipment provided by AAR Japan. Ando Noriko, AAR Japan representative (third from the left) (All pictures below are taken in the Phongsaly Province, March 15th, 2016)