Women Birth a New Vision for Maternity Care
Recommendation: Hold Healthcare Providers Accountable
CAMEROON: The Sour Taste of Pregnancy
As a young woman who has had three pregnancies and is now a mother to two children, I have had my share of the deplorable conditions expectant mothers in Cameroon face every day. I have also heard countless tales that echo my experience from other women in my community: unnecessary surgeries, unscrupulous medical personnel, lack of nurturing caregivers during pregnancy and delivery—there are so many sour experiences where maternal health is concerned.
Labor for my first child began at night so I was rushed to the hospital at about 10pm. The midwife in attendance was asleep when I got there. She was so unhappy because I interrupted her slumber. This made her very hostile towards me throughout that night, and if not for the timely intervention of more accommodating colleagues I wonder how that delivery would have ended.
My second pregnancy terminated in a miscarriage that could have been avoided if I had met committed health workers when I got to the hospital. Instead of getting me checked in immediately, I had to insist that my situation needed urgent attention. Finally, they offered to admit me as an in-patient but kept me waiting with no care whatsoever. That was how I bled until I finally lost my second baby.
With my third pregnancy, I had very poor prenatal care in the hospital where I registered: No lectures on my first visit, no essential tests, and an arrogant midwife who would not answer my simple questions. I eventually evaded this hospital to give birth in a private clinic where the workers were more hospitable. However, when I got my bill at the end, it had been consciously inflated.
More evils exist when it comes to maternal health care in Cameroon. Mothers are not given adequate information to sustain them throughout pregnancy. Some of them lose their premature babies because they were not incubated on time. Some get infections because their after-birth tears were not stitched. Some lose their babies right after they are born because midwives are too busy to attend to them. Some bleed to death because no medication is given to control abnormal bleeding. The list is just endless.
The truth is a lot of nurses, midwives, and medical doctors are not passionate about their jobs. They are more passionate about money. Pregnant women who need premium care continue to be their victims. According to a World Bank report published in 2012, as of 2010, 690 women in Cameroon died during pregnancy and childbirth per 100,000 live births. This number can be greatly reduced if the ills plaguing maternal health are curbed.
I call on my fellow women to study intensely when they are pregnant. We need to stand up for ourselves and put our health first. Let us empower ourselves with knowledge and choose the better health institutions over the bad ones. Pregnant women carry the future generation and we need appropriate care!
Precious Meshi Nkeih | Cameroon . . .