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Maternal-Child Health

Before we came to Jacquesyl, it was not uncommon for babies and mothers to die at childbirth.  Almost all babies were delivered at home (where typically there are dirt floors, no window screens, no running water or electricity, and no soap) and without a trained attendant.  Women and babies contracted tetanus because an unclean knife or broken bottle was used to cut the umbilical cord.

 

Mothers and infants in the Jacquesyl clinic

Although we couldn’t afford to build a hospital, we have been able to improve maternal-child health with a simple solution — a "Safe Birth Kit" program, based on a plan devised by the Peace Corps.  Under the program, expectant women who come to the clinic for prenatal care and a tetanus shot are given a birthing kit, consisting of a clean string for tying off the umbilical cord, a new razor blade for cutting the cord, sterile hospital gloves, a bar of soap, sterile gauze pads, and a receiving blanket — all of which are placed in a re-sealable plastic bag. 

In 1995, ten babies and three mothers died, out of a total of 35 births.  In recent years, no mothers or babies have died in childbirth.

 

Villagers with safe birth kits

 

Next: Immunizations

 

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