“The Democratic Republic of Congo is the worst country to be a mother,” asserts a new humanitarian report. The findings include a staggering statistic: One in 30 women will likely die as a result of maternity-related complications. At the Salesian-run Don Bosco Center in Goma-Ngangi, a new training program for medical professionals hopes to tackle this troubling issue.
For the past 10 years, the Salesian center has been serving the poor -- paying special attention to sick mothers, infants and children. This latest initiative aims to prevent the long-term effects of inadequate maternal-child care through skills training, continuing education and enhanced family support systems.
“We know that the health of mothers and children is closely linked to economic status, educational opportunity and other important factors,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “And when a new mother doesn’t survive, the impact on her remaining family members can be devastating. Orphans become caught in a cycle of poverty doomed to repeat itself.”
More than 100 doctors and nurses specializing in maternity services have enrolled in the Salesian program, which is offered in collaboration with the National Program of Reproductive Health and the Provincial Medical Inspector of North Kivu -- with additional help from Salesian Volunteers for International Development. During six separate sessions, participants explore topics ranging from prenatal consultation and pregnancy support, to childbirth and newborn care.
“Medical staff are on the front lines for reducing the incidence of newborn and maternal death, and they must have access to specialized training that will provide them information on the latest medical practices and technologies,” says Fr. Hyde.
In the heart-breaking instances when a mother dies in childbirth, the Don Bosco Center springs to the family’s aid -- providing home-based support to help with feeding and care or, when necessary, fostering the child at the Salesian center for up to three years before returning her to the family.
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