Breaking new ground on maternal health

From Global development | The Guardian Mon Nov 26 2012, 02:00:02

Radios, local doctors and techniques to help underweight newborns are saving the lives of women and children in Burundi

The youngest of Chantalle Bukuru's six children does not have a name yet, but the 17-day-old girl certainly has attitude as her fists swat the air, her eyes wide and alert. Bukuru, 27, gave birth by caesarean section in the CMCK clinic in Bujumbura, the steamy, hill-ringed, bicycle-filled capital of Burundi, in eastern Africa.

She was referred to the clinic as part of an emergency obstetric care programme run by Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, in this poor, landlocked country, which has one of the world's highest maternal mortality rates. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2010 for every 100,000 live births, 800 women died.

Bukuru's labour was not progressing, and she is still in hospital because her incision became infected. "If MSF had not been involved, things would have gone very badly ... they saved me," she says, speaking in Kirundi, a local language. She will name her daughter when she goes home, as is the tradition.

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