To get from the village of Goudiry to the regional hospital in Tambacoumba, Senegal, women in labour had to travel 70
kilometres along a rough dirt road, often in donkey carts. Eight out of ten with complicated pregnancies didn’t get help in time, and many died.
That was before 2001, when with UNFPA support Goudiry’s tiny health clinic was expanded into an obstetric
care centre with the equipment and personnel to handle blood transfusions and Caesarean sections. Already, the model clinic has saved more than 100 women.
An anaesthetist, 17 nurses and several trained community
workers offer outreach services, including information about reproductive health issues. They also deliver contraceptive supplies to the surrounding areas.
Senegal’s maternal mortality ratio is nearly 700 deaths per
100,000 live births. It averages only one gynaecologist per 30,000 women of reproductive age, and most work in the capital. Rural women give birth to five or six children on
average. Severe bleeding and eclampsia are the leading causes of maternal death. Early marriage, female genital cutting and sexually transmitted infections are additional factors that
complicate childbirth for many women. See Sources