As the landscape for healthcare in the US is in the news constantly these days, I cannot help but think about how fortunate we are to experience a relatively high standard of care in this country. Regardless of how these healthcare discussions play out, I know that we have a lot to be thankful for. As we work to bring ITW’s program to Uganda, I have learned that people in Uganda face challenges I have never had to consider. For example, if a woman needs to travel to the city so that she can have her baby in a hospital, she first needs to prepare for a long walk, or find alternate transport. The most expedient way would be to hire a boda boda, or mini-bike. Then, she will need to make sure that she brings someone with her that can provide her with food and water, and to make sure that she is clean and comfortable while she is in the hospital. Often, people bring their entire families, including children, to camp outside of the hospital so that they can provide nursing for the mother. She must also purchase a sterile bag for birthing, and make arrangements to dispose of it afterwards.
During Dr. DeStigter’s recent trip to Uganda, she visited a village that will participate in ITW’s first implementation. Just the day before, a 19 year old woman died on the steps of the local clinic. She had been delivering at home, and the birth was breech. After a long, unproductive labor, she decided to go to the local clinic to get help with her difficult delivery, but unfortunately, it was too late and she and the baby died. If ultrasound would have been available, she would have known that she would have a breech birth and could have arranged to give birth in the clinic with a skilled attendant.
As I contemplate a lovely and sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner with my family this year, I’m reminded in a deeper way of the basic purpose of this holiday. Living in this country, in these times, it’s easy to forget about the daily struggles to survive of so many in the world. So this year I encourage all to give a hearty thanks for all that we have.
Happy Thanksgiving! --Andrea