By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
Tepehua Centro Comunitario A.C, is concentrating on sexuality, education, birth control and help to maintain dignity through one of the worst pain tunnels a woman can endure: the birth of a child. Each year half a million women die due to pregnancy and childbirth. Seven million have long term complications and 50 million have negative outcomes following delivery. Most of these issues occur in the developing world.
The World Health Organization describes the postnatal period as the most critical yet most neglected phase in the life of mother and child. Most of the deaths occur in the postnatal period. The maternal mortality rate has fallen in Mexico, but it is still the highest in Latin America. The problem is far worse among the indigenous poor, where women are less likely to survive delivering a child.
According to The Economist, one of the first obstacles for a pregnant woman in poverty is transport. This is evident in the Tepehua Barrio, where women have to take a bus to Guadalajara, which is an hour of travel time, and for more isolated barrios much more, plus the hassle of changing buses. Other problems await at hospitals. Lab tests and medical supplies, which are very expensive, have to be paid, in spite of the fact it is called a ‘free’ hospital. The journey to Guadalajara costs 200 pesos per person and a family member has to go with the expectant mother to stay overnight to help give care. The lack of beds forces them back on the road 24 to 48 hours after giving birth which, as stated above, is the most critical time for adequate care. This is why many women give birth with no medical help at all. The Economist also stated that the best way to reduce maternal mortality is to invest in infrastructure and health and education.
Celia Hubert wrote in her studies on the issue that high levels of maternal mortality are strongly correlated with high levels of social inequality, especially unequal access to health services. Since most maternal deaths could be avoided by the provision of adequate medical care, access to prenatal care and deliveries by trained health providers are essential to reducing deaths during pregnancies, deliveries and the postnatal period.
The consequences of maternal mortality affect disadvantaged families, worsening their already fragile situation. A study in 2010 showed maternal deaths were caused by pre-eclampsia (Toxemia), hemorrhage, septic shock, neoplasm, embolism and abortion. Most of these causes can be avoided with adequate care. Therefore, improving women’s education and giving them access to contraception is an essential part of any strategy to reduce maternal mortality.
The plan of the Tepehua Centro Comunitario is to build a maternal health unit at Tepehua, where the women of isolated barrios can come and have their babies, sending only the complicated cases to Guadalajara in the Tepehua/Cedejo maternal health bus. Cedejo and the Tepehua Health Clinic have been working together to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, maternal mortality, and educating women on family planning. With an affordable Maternal Unit close to their home and pre/postnatal care available in sterile conditions, the mortality rate for mothers and infants will fall. Cedejo takes the maternal health bus to isolated villages, where they monitor the conditions of expectant mothers and check for cancer and STD’s.
If you have an interest and wish to be involved with this project, please contact the writer. We need to design in limited space, a laboratory for small machines and lab testing and clean rooms for delivery. If you have ideas that will help get this off the ground the Tepehua Centro Comunitario Board of Directors is anxious to hear from you. The difference this one Maternity Unit could make to countless barrios at Lakeside would be very impressive. To be part of change is to be part of the future.