Sometimes you hear something that really makes you stop and think and realize just how bloody lucky you are. Today was one of those days. On the way to the dentist, I was listening to the Pat Kenny Show on RTE 1, about 11am (‘though I think Myles Dungan is at the helm right now). There was a story about a project, based in Kildalkey Co Meath, to help a maternity unit in a hospital in Mua in Malawi . You can find the podcast here, I recommend it.
One of the people behind the project is Dr Valerie Donnelly, a consultant at Mt Carmel Hospital in Dublin. Her description of the conditions in the labour ward there was staggering, an absence of basic medical equipment, medicines and other supplies (like dressings) that seemed unreal. Many of the mothers have poor health to begin with, high rates of HIV and anaemia for example. As a result, maternal mortality is sky high, about 1 in 2000 mothers die. In Ireland, it is 1 in 100,000. The maternal mortality has a grim knock-on effect for the babies: when the mother dies, the baby dies as there is no other way of feeding them.
The project is shipping out much needed equipment in a container which is also being fitted out as an internet cafe to help the hospital generate some much needed money. It is hard not to be moved by the plight of the mothers in that community. The numerous ways we waste resources seems obscene in the circumstances. I am also reminded of the bien pensant commentators here who have referred to our health service as “third world” (some Irish Times columnists for example). Such people haven’t a fucking clue. Of course none of this may seem new or surprising but nonetheless to hear it described was arresting.
It is surely worthy of our support. There is some more information here although it does not appear to have been updated recently.