Esther* knows she is living a miracle. So many things had to go right for her to be alive and healthy, in a hospital bed next to her tiny newborn son. Indeed, everything about Esther points to her being one of the 77 of every 1,000 new mothers who die in childbirth in Liberia, where she lives. Esther has diabetes and, in the final month of her pregnancy, developed extremely high blood pressure. A year before, Esther might have died, her danger signs unrecognized. Even if she had shown up at the hospital, she could have been turned away due to a shortage of beds.
But in October 2015, Americares completed an expansion of the Liberia Government Hospital in Grand Bassa County, adding a maternal care wing, with 23 new beds for labor and delivery. Americares provided critical equipment, medicine and supplies and hired trained staff to work alongside local nurses. To bring more women to the facility and increase their chances of safe childbirth, Americares also hired a community outreach specialist, who trained traditional midwives to recognize danger signs —like Esther’s swollen feet and headaches—and accompany women to the hospital for prenatal care, delivery and postnatal care. That is exactly what happened to Esther; a traditional midwife in her community saw her distress and told her she needed care immediately.
In all, more than 900 babies were born safely in the first 10 months after expansion. Eleven women died in that time – too many deaths for certain, but not even close to the 70 that statistics predict for women in Liberia. Americares investments in this local health center—strengthening its clinical services, increasing access to medicine and improving community health outreach—are having a lifesaving impact.
“Americares, especially with infrastructure development, has made a lasting change,”
Esther and her tiny son, just starting their life journey together, are proof of that.