Tobey Lee, Hong Kong Midwife
At the Doro refugee camp in Maban, South Sudan, MSF is the only organisation that provides free obstetrics and gynaecology services in the region. During June and July 2018, there are up to 250 to 280 women coming to MSF hospital for safe delivery each month. Since child marriages are common there, as young as 15 or 16-year-old women may get married and bear children. These women are not matured enough – physically, reproductively, and mentally – which resulted in complicated deliveries and caring of newborns at very young age.
I still remember the first woman that I helped deliver a baby. She was 15 years old, and that was her first child. As she underwent traditional female genital mutilation in South Sudan before, the delivery process became more difficult. For women like her, that follow the local practices and give birth at home with the help of traditional birth attendants, it can be serious and fatal because of the greater risk of infection for both mother and child. Luckily, she arrived at MSF hospital in time so that we were able to monitor her delivery process and response to it. The safety of mother and child are the best reward to us.
In fact, not every newborn baby in South Sudan could grow up healthily. There are many premature and underweight newborns. Due to the lack of healthcare facilities and professionals, our midwives have to take care of these very low birth-weight babies. I had witnessed a 0.9 kg newborn baby who struggled to survive after birth. When everyone was encouraged by his strong will to survive, he left us at the third night after birth. The following day his twin brother also passed away. That night, the 16-year-old mother cried all night long. I had limited ability to help her. If the twins were born in Hong Kong, the ending might be different……