She Helps Women Deliver, Makes A Hot Meal Before Discharging Them

Pamela Achieng’ Sombe has assisted several women who come to the dispensary with advanced labour to deliver safely and without her help, these women and their children would probably be part of the statistics of those who die while delivering at home

Nairobi, October 31st 2011 – In a remote dispensary in Nyanza province, one nurse is going beyond the call of duty to ensure safe deliveries for women from the neighborhood.

With only basic equipments and supplies, Pamela Achieng’ Sombe has assisted several women who come to the dispensary with advanced labour to deliver safely and without her help, these women and their children would probably be part of the statistics of those who die while delivering at home.

Nduru Kadero in Bondo County where she has worked since 2006 is a dispensary right at the bottom of the ranking for Government health facilities in Kenya and it’s therefore required to provide first level service to patients and refer serious cases, including deliveries to the nearest health centre. The Dispensary has no delivery ward, let alone a labour room.

In her small bed, she helps the women to deliver and afterwards allows them to rest after which she makes for them a hot meal and beverage before discharging them and incase of complications she calls for an ambulance. “Sometimes I have very little for myself, but I must share it with the new mothers because at that point, they need extra care, food and drink,” she said.

Most of the women arrive at the Dispensary very late at night and Achieng’, who stays in the same compound, had no problem attending to them. “I have informed the community members that they are   free to wake me up at whatever time of the night because I am here to serve them,” said the calm looking lady.

Asked how she feels after winning the award, the relaxed soft-spoken lady  who was delighted, accepted the recognition for the little they do in the community, by being appreciated adding that long are the days when patients were being told to go to other facilities or chased away to seek for other medical treatment.

Challenges

However, Some of the challenges she is facing in her profession includes long working hours, having no room for deliveries, inadequate equipment with only a small bed, shielded from view by a cardboard wall, situated 4 kilometers away from the main road and the problem gets more complicated if labor begins at night when there is no public transport.

In her profession, she gets motivation from seeing a newborn come into the world, and  even gets more motivated d as she sees them being brought to the clinic and enjoying the life of being born.

She was grateful to the United Nations System in Kenya for finding her worthy of the award and thinks that the accolade is not about her, but about the problem of mother and child deaths in this country.

“As you may already be aware, this country looses more than 6000 women every year because of pregnancy related complications and most of them die because they tend to deliver at home without the help of a qualified medical worker,” she said.

Among the reasons as to why most women do not deliver in health facilities according to her includes, the distance between their homes and health facilities and lack of transport to take them to the dispensary.

“In my place of work, most of the women rely on a boda-boda or a motor cycle taxi to take them to the health centre to deliver and you can imagine a pregnant woman in labour on a motorcycle for more than three hours and usually the woman has to be accompanied by somebody to hold her firmly on the motorcycle,” observed Achieng’.

Remote 

She however sympathized with the situation of pregnant mothers living in remote areas like North Eastern province where health centers are as far as 300 kilometers away. “What happens to these mothers when they go into labour?” She poses.

She said that the problem is serious and calls for everyone’s concerned starting from the mothers and their families, those in the medical profession, the government, development partners and donors.

The 45-year-old soft speaking lady decided to make maternal health a priority in her work because of the important role played by mothers especially here in Kenya as they are the pillars in most homes who finds for a family than puts food on the table even in difficult times according to her.

Achieng’ also disclosed to us how she usually takes time to educate women on their health and that of their children and encourage them to attend antenatal care and to take out a card to go and deliver in a health centre. Nevertheless, this has not worked out always as planned as sometimes labour comes out earlier than expected, and these women come into the dispensary which is within their village and she does the best she can for them.

She appealed to the government and development partners to help equip and staff dispensaries to handle deliveries as this will save the lives of mothers and their new-born babies.

She also thinks that the award is not about her but about the noble profession of nursing and urged fellow nurses that the profession calls for more than just education and skills, and as a full nurse one must  always be there as it must be commended that there are thousands of nurses doing superb jobs around the world.

She dedicated the award to all nurses in the country who work for long hours to save lives, often under poor working conditions without getting recognition or appreciation. “This award is for all of us and I hope that it will motivate all nurses to do all they can to save live especially those of women and children.

Global statistics indicate that one woman dies every minute from pregnancy and child-birth related complications. In Kenya, at least 16 women die every day during childbirth and one out of 20 women is at risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications in Kenya, compared to one  in 8,200 in the UK.

In her own small way, Achieng’ is making a contribution towards Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5(Reducing child mortality and improving maternal health).

Last year alone saw 20 healthy babies delivered, with her assistance, on the small bed at the dispensary.

By Boniface Otieno

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