Healthy baby girl, FREE to whoever can feed her

As a mom, it tears at my heart. It was shocking at the same time that I know it meant a better life for the baby. It's commonplace, but I don't often personally see or hear of it. A woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl around 7am, at a health center where we were field-testing some questionnaires. Usually anyone admitted to a facility is accompanied by throngs of family members, who provide the care to the patient that back home would be done by health staff (eg providing meals, making sure medicines are taken, changing the dressings etc). But there was no one with this very young mother. She was thin, ragged, and very weak. She breastfed the baby a bit, on prompting by the staff, but by evening someone noticed that she hadn't eaten … [Read more...]

Chlong tonle – the other side of the river is so far for some women in Cambodia

A woman died today after giving birth to a healthy baby boy. We came to the health facility and saw her just in time to see the life fade from her eyes after hemorrhaging in the ward where there were four midwives and an obstetrician on duty. Only one staff was attending to the patient at the time of death - a student midwife. The student claimed she told the staff, but they were busy with other patients. The staff corroborated this. The fact that there was no prioritization for the emergency case is testament to how dysfunctional the health sector still is, and how poor the capacity of health staff are that this is allowed to happen. There won't be a maternal audit, or changes to standard operating procedures, because this facility is not … [Read more...]

Living in Phnom Penh, Having a baby in Bangkok

Photo by Keith A Kelly CHOOSING THE HOSPITAL We work and live in Phnom Penh, and wouldn't feel comfortable with the specialists / facilities here in case of complications during delivery. The nearest city with internationally accredited care is Bangkok, so there we went at 35 weeks 6 days gestation, the latest we’re allowed to board a Thai Airways flight (with a fit-to-fly certificate from the doc). Most of Bangkok's well-known private facilities have high quality patient-oriented care and great customer service. They have translators, can take care of extending  visas, take the baby's passport photo (this isn't easy so do get this done at the hospital!), get the birth certificate officially translated and documented at the Ministry of … [Read more...]