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» year review 2009

Reportage: Maternity hospital in Malawi
by Toby Binder / Anzenberger


Everybody is familiar with it – the typical “hospital smell” of stinging disinfectants, which subconsciously somehow imparts the feeling of being in good hands. At the Bottom Hospital in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe the smell is different: a mixture of humans – too many in too small a space – sewage and heat fouls the air. Women lie about, on benches or mostly on the floor. Convulsed with pain, moaning and quietly crying in agony. Struggling to their feet they drag themselves to the delivery room – mostly without help, only a black garbage bag in their hands. Everyone has to bring one as a pad for the delivery. Everything here happens with great calm. No hectic pace, no clamoring, not even in emergencies. The women are patient and do not complain. For Europeans, sometimes the local personnel comes across as lethargic and somewhat indifferent. Malawi counts among the poorest economies of the world, and thus occupies almost inevitably the first place in the sad statistics of maternal mortality among all countries not involved in wars - only Afghanistan and Sierra Leone rank worse. In all of Malawi there are a mere 13 obstetricians for 12 million inhabitants. In the capital of Lilongwe, three obstetricians care for four million women and yearly help 12,000 children into this world. This dearth of personnel, unthinkable in the Northern Hemisphere, together with the low status of girls and women in African society, is responsible for the fact that out of 100,000 pregnant women 1,800 do not survive giving birth (based on estimates of the World Health Organization WHO). In present-day Germany, just 9 out of 100,000 die at delivery. The current figure from Malawi lies appallingly close to the one prevalent in Europe of the Middle Ages. Tarek Meguid, a doctor from Stuttgart, is one of the three gynecologists working at Bottom Hospital. On the one hand, he struggles on a daily basis in the delivery room to directly help as many women and their children as possible; on the other hand, he tries to alert pertinent authorities in the hope to achieve a long-term improvement of the situation. Funded by CIM, the Center for International Migration, the 47 year old gynecologist has worked in Malawi for the last four years.exclusiveThis feature was an extraordinary and expensive production and/or was not published yet. Therefore we call it EXCLUSIVE and it has a higher price than the usual agreements. Please contact the agency before any publication by email: office@anzenberger.com or by phone +43-1-587 82 51.close


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