Three months ago, Geoffrey Odhiambo watched helplessly as his wife passed away in a clinic on the eastern edge of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, where she had just delivered her third child.

Odhiambo’s wife bled to death a few minutes after delivery due to a complication termed as postpartum hemorrhage.

He still recalls with horror the image of his wife gasping for breath as she battled the complication that affects millions of women in developing countries where access to skilled birth attendants is still a mirage.

“It all looked like a movie scene unfolding before me, my wife had just been brought back from the labor ward, her baby in tow. All seemed well, she requested me to watch over them as she took a nap. Approximately 20 minutes into her sleep, I realized she was struggling to turn to face the side where I was seated,” Odhiambo told Xinhua.

“As I helped her turn, I almost screamed … The sheets were drenched with blood and as the doctor rushed back to help her, my wife died as I watched,” he said.

His predicament is not a rare phenomenon in Kenya though. Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that maternal mortality is still high in the East African nation, currently at 488 deaths per 100,000 live births. A third of these deaths are results of postpartum haemorrhage.

Joseph Tiampati’s wife was another victim. His scenario was similar to Odhiambo’s only that Tiampati’s wife died at home while giving birth to a baby boy.

“It was traumatizing when my mother with assistance from the village midwife tried to rescue my wife from the jaws of death. She died on our way to the hospital,” he said.

Experts have expected a long way for Kenya is to go before meeting the target under Sustainable Development Goal 3 of reducing the maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 births.

Innovative measures are being piloted, though. A kit, known as Uterine Ballon Tamponade (UBT) and approved by the WHO, has proved efficient in stopping new mothers from bleeding to death after birth.

The hard work now is in training medical workers on how to use the kit, developed by the Massachusetts General Hospital in the United States.

The UBT kit which costs approximately 5 U.S. dollars consists of a condom tied to a urinary catheter, which is inflated with clean water through a syringe and one-way valve.

According to Angeline Karina, a midwife at a Maternity and Nursing Home located in Nairobi’s Mathare slums, the UBT kit has helped her save three women in the past six months.

“There was a time an underage girl who was my patient started bleeding profusely. After trying all the conventional ways to stop the bleeding, I remembered the UBT kit,” Karina told Xinhua how she later used the kit to save the girl’s life.

The Kenyan government has partnered with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Massachusetts General Hospital to train medical workers on the use of the UBT kit.

According to UNICEF, trained health workers have used the UBT kit in Garissa, Homabay, Siaya, Turkana, Nairobi and Kisumu counties to save new mothers from birth-related complications.

In a past interview with UNICEF, Nuru Abbas, a medical officer in Garissa General Hospital, said she had to resort to using the UBT kit after all other conventional methods failed.

“It is very traumatizing for health workers when a mother dies after giving birth. I have seen it happen before and it is an experience you never want to go through, I have used the kit to save women and it has proved efficient,” she said. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/


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