By Lorelee Planos, nurse and midwife for Samaritan’s Purse in South Sudan
With 2,054 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, South Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Due in part to the high fertility rate, each mother has a one in seven chance of dying in childbirth during her lifetime.
Babies are at an even greater risk. Twenty-five percent die from common, often preventable childhood illnesses before they reach their fifth birthday. Childbirth and pregnancy, rather than conflict, are the nation’s biggest killers of girls and women.
The high-impact services that Samaritan’s Purse implements at Maban County Hospital in Upper Nile State focus on improving the health of women and their children. The hospital provides, among other services, comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care, ensuring care for women experiencing complications during delivery.
The Samaritan’s Purse-run hospital is the only secondary referral facility in Maban County, which hosts over 150,000 refugees displaced by war from Blue Nile State in neighboring Sudan in addition to the host population of over 50,000. The hospital has saved hundreds of lives of women who have been presented with life-threatening complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Obstructed labor, severe bleeding, infection and hypertensive disorders are some of the greatest threats to the pregnant women. With a team of dedicated expatriate and national medical staff, the responses to the emergencies have been great.
When Nyawe, a 20-year-old South Sudanese woman, discovered she was pregnant, it was all joy and excitement.
She went into labor after eight months, but soon discovered that her delivery was taking longer than usual. With the help of relatives, she was brought to our hospital where she was diagnosed to be carrying triplets in her womb, and her labor was obstructed. Normal delivery would not be possible, and so she underwent a caesarean section to deliver three bouncing 1.9 kg baby girls.
“Thank you so much for saving my life and of my three babies. May God bless you,” she beamed with a broad smile soon after the surgery.
Seven months later, Amina’s three girls have continued to grow healthily and she is alive to see them grow. This is the dream of every woman. Pregnancy and childbirth should never be a death sentence.
It is a great opportunity to be a part of God’s activity in this place. Saving and touching lives is not easy. It involves long, hard days and sleepless nights, but it is fulfilling to be a part of the people’s lives in times of crisis and need. It is God’s grace that is sufficient, and His mercies that are new every morning that keep us going.
As we continue caring for these people, we ask God to to bless us with renewed strength daily, to remind us the reason of why we are doing what we do when things get rough or when we get to the point of feeling down and weary, to give us more love and compassion, and to give us joy of serving God through His people.