In Madagascar, hospitals are not always accessible to everyone and many women have to deliver at home with the help of midwives. When something goes wrong the midwives often don’t have sufficient training to deal with the problems that arise and especially when a baby is not breathing.
But two courses that have been run on the Africa Mercy aim to radically reduce the new-born mortality rate. The first called the SAFE Obstetrics and Anesthesia refresher is designed to help doctors, midwives and general nurses working in local hospitals.
In Antananarivo the capital of Madagascar (8 hours’ drive from where the ship is docked) a three day course was run to help the staff of local hospitals hone their skills in anaesthesia, intubation of new-born babies, and techniques for delivering babies with complications.
The problem is that Madagascar is such a huge country and the population is so spread out that many have never even been to a city that has a hospital. So we had to find a way to take some training out to the villages. That’s were a small army (well 10 of them at least) all volunteers from the Peace Corps have been trained to go out and teach midwives in remote areas to “Help Babies Breathe”.
The Peace Corps volunteers have now gone out to remote areas throughout Madagascar to train local nurses, midwives and birth attendants these resuscitation techniques that can easily be practised in remote areas using materials provided by the program. These Peace Corps volunteers will then monitor the use of the techniques and report back on mortality rates before and after the techniques were taught to local medical personal.