A true story

Health reforms: Health Care as close as possible to the Family

A true story

At midnight of October 30, a 19 year old woman was brought to Our Lady’s Hospital in chilonga. She had started labour at midday of October 26, over 4 days ago at her home village.

Her family brought her to Nakonde (500 km from chilonga) RHC at 3 o’clock in the morning of October 27. She was given a drip and told to prepare for delivery. Problems started. The heartbeat of the child could not be heard any longer, the the contractions stopped after having been only mild. The baby was by now dead, but not yet delivered.

On the 30th of October she was brought to Isoka District Hospital (150 km from nakonde)for “further treatment”. There was no oxygen at the District Hospital. Next on the road was Chinsali District Hospital. There was no doctor at chinsali. Next on the road is Mpika District Hospital (185 km from chinsali), it was not even tried.

At the end of the road, after 500 km of travelling, the young woman arrived at Chilonga Mission Hospital.

The same night she went to theatre, under suspicion of a uterus rupture. Incision were made, the uterus which had surprisingly not ruptured was opened to deliver the dead baby. But the baby was stuck and had to be decapitated in utero. The inside walls of the uterus had started to rot due to 4 days of pressure of the dead babies head. A total hysterectomy was done.

She was then given the usual high dose of IV antibiotics, which could not prevent peritonitis to develop. She developed sores and fistulae and leaking stools caused more sores. Several times necrotic tissue was removed. The lady was not able to walk, her right leg was affected after prolonged labour. Her husband came to visit her from time to time, still caring for her patiently. Her sister was assisting the nurses in cleaning her wounds and wiping stools and urine from her wounds.

A surgeon from Kasama, after having been contacted offered to operate on her in chilonga together with a gynaecologist from Kasama… But prolonged infection, malnutrition and general malaise were too much. She died on the eve of Christmas.

Unfortunately this story is just one of so many that show us that a lot remains to be done in improving health infrastructure and obstetric care. It was one of the worst cases. The stories of the many unseen women who die at home because of ignorance or only transport problems will never be told. The provincial medical officer made a follow up on this case which resulted in more training of staff, more trained staff and money to improve theatre facilities at the various hospitals.