Dr. Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital Dublin with Dr. Grace Chiudzu, Director of OBGYN Residency Programme, Lilongwe and Mary Donohoe, Founder and Director of The Rose Project during a recent trip to Lilongwe.
Dr Mary Robinson, Malawian President Joyce Banda and Mary Donohoe – founder of The Rose Project – during a visit to Bwaila Maternity Hospital.
Lilongwe, Malawi. August 2011.
Lilongwe, Malawi. August 2011.
Our aim is to support innovative locally lead healthcare programmes which address HIV in the context of maternal and infant mortality. The current focus of our work is in Lilongwe the capital of Malawi.
The Rose Project funds programmes which address maternal and child healthcare in Malawi. Mother to Child HIV transmission is the second most common form of HIV transmission in Malawi and accounts for 21,000 babies being born with the virus each year.
If you place an HIV positive expectant mother on treatment during pregnancy, the risk of transmission to her child is almost eliminated.
In addition the all important health of the mother is looked after, in turn improving her chance of caring for her child long-term and the rest of the family. There are two principal obstacles to providing healthcare to mothers and infants. Lack of healthcare workers to administer healthcare programmes: in clinics hospitals and the community.
In 2009, The Rose Project funded the new Bwaila Maternity Hospital. This hospital replaced a shed like structure which was built in 1939 – as a temporary structure to manage 4,000 annual births! Prior to its closure, the hospital was managing 11,000 annual births.
The new Bwaila Maternity hospital (the busiest maternity hospital in Malawi) is responsible for 15,000 births each year . Whilst there is an acute shortage of skilled healthcare workers in Malawi the situation has improved over the last five years. This is due to the increase in intake of medical and nursing students to the university -the results are already visible at Bwaila Maternity Hospital where for the first time since the hospital opened, there are enough midwives in the Labour Ward. When the new hospital opened there was no resident obstetrician – however there are now two. This is making a substantial difference to clinical care for patients.
Malawi has the highest incidence of maternal mortality for a non conflict country. Many women have just one antenatal visit which results in a high level of complications when patients present for delivery. In addition the incidence of HIV amongst the women attending the hospital is high leading which also contributes to an increased level of complications.
Mother to child HIV transmission during pregnancy is the second most common form of HIV transmission in Malawi and accounts for 30,000 babies being born HIV with the virus each year. With treatment this is preventable. Prevention of mother to child HIV transmission in pregnancy, is central to the care provided at Bwaila Maternity Hospital.
A number of international organisations have joined forces with The Rose Project in the past 4 years in an effort to improve maternal and infant care at the hospital. These include Freedom from Fistula Foundation Scotland , the University of North Carolina, and Haukeland University Hospital Norway. These organisations in partnership with the District Health Officer are presently implementing a number of training programmes for midwives and it is envisaged that a residency programme for medical graduates in the specialty of obstetrics will begin shortly at the hospital.
The Rose Project continues to fund Rachel Macleod, senior midwife manager who works in the labour ward at the hospital.
The photographs of the Labour Ward below have been taken with the patients permission
In 2010 Freedom from Fistula Foundation (Scotland )opened a fistula unit at Bwaila Maternity Hospital. Obstetric fistula is a serious problem in the world’s poorest countries, where most mothers give birth without any medical help The condition leads to social stigma leaving many women ostracised by their families. To date 400 women have had fistula repair transforming their lives.