Maternal Health in Liberia - The Birth of Hope Appeal
In Liberia, infant death is common, and maternal mortality is extraordinarily high. The rate of infant mortality is a shocking 157 per 1,000 live births and 994 mothers die in every 100,000 births. In the UK, infant mortality is only five deaths per 1,000 and eight mothers die in every 100,000 births.
The reason is not hard to find. Years of civil war, which finally ended in 2003, have largely destroyed health services in Liberia, including maternity services. Doctors and other healthcare professionals left the country in large numbers during the fighting, and medical training was badly disrupted by the war, so that now only approximately 100 doctors remain for a population of over four million people. Most hospitals cannot function because they do not have even the most basic equipment. Many expectant mothers have to travel miles to receive proper medical care during pregnancy and childbirth. Many give birth at home in unhygienic and dangerous conditions.
Kumah Town Clinic serves a population of several thousand in north-eastern Liberia, but it is hardly a model of modern health care. The current clinic is in very bad state of repair and the maternity services are all conducted in one tiny room, making it extremely difficult for the dedicated health workers to provide quality care. Now Merlin hopes to rebuild and equip the clinic. Plans for the new maternity unit include:
All of these changes will vastly improve the quality of health care that the clinic can offer local mothers. They will be able to give birth in comfortable and hygienic conditions. More women will be able to give birth at the clinic, with proper professional help, instead of having their babies at home. The result will be that many more mothers and babies will survive childbirth.
Birth of Hope Appeal
In late March, 23,000 Members of The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) will receive a personal appeal from the President, Professor Parveen Kumar. The letter will invite Members to make a donation to support the building of the maternal health clinic in Kumah Town, Liberia. It is planned to start the re-construction work in May 2011 provided we can raise the funds we need.
Here is an outline budget for the new project:
Building costs, including electrical installation and plumbing: £20,900
Medical equipment, including delivery beds and instruments: £1,228
Furniture, include wooden beds, seating, buckets and basins: £1,572
Administration costs: £1,300
After costs, 90% of the money raised from this appeal will go directly to Merlin and 10% to support the RSM's global health programme.
Merlin is currently working in 16 countries, all of which have particularly challenging environments including Afghanistan, Sudan, DRC and Somalia. Merlin help around 20 million men, women and children access health care through health provision and the training of local health workers. From 2010's emergency responses to the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti and Pakistan's devastating floods, to the longer-term development activities in Liberia and Nepal, Merlin is now regarded as a leader in both the coordination of international emergency health responses, and in working closely with local authorities and communities to enable them to run their own health services. If you would like to find out more about Merlin's work, please contact Kathy Aronson directly on 020 7014 1713 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Royal Society of Medicine and Global Health
The Society is engaged in a number of important global health initiatives. On 14 March 2011 the Society, in partnership with THET-Tropical Health and Education Trust, will host a conference 'Engaging in global health: controversies and solutions'. To register to attend the conference, please contact email@example.com or call 020 7290 3949.
On 15 April 2011, the RSM's Catastrophe & Conflict Forum hosts its annual medicine overseas conference. Speakers include Jonathan Kaplan, author of 'The dressing station', Marc DuBois, Executive Director, MSF UK and senior representatives of Merlin, Oxfam and THET - Tropical Health and Education Trust. To register to attend email firstname.lastname@example.org.