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Helping Mothers in DRC Avoid The Three Deadly Delays

06 June 2016

The first delay is in not making a decision to seek skilled care in time. A major goal for MSF is to convince more women to come for skilled care. Photo: Pau Miranda/MSF

Overall, DRC has far too few doctors to cover even a fraction of its population. Most of the doctors that do work in DRC are in the cities. At MSF’s Kalungu health center, women receive consultations and medication for free. Photo: Pau Miranda/MSF

The third delay is in receiving proper, timely care at health center level because of the lack of human or material resources. This clinic in Minova, which is not an MSF clinic, lacks even basic equipment. Photo: Pau Miranda/MSF

The second delay occurs en route to getting care. The lack of road infrastructure and insecurity in some areas are a major threat to women in labor. Photo: Pau Miranda/MSF

These patients walked for hours to reach MSF-supported Shanje health center. Women often walk as long as eight hours to reach the clinic. Photo: Pau Miranda/MSF

The 1,000 francs (around $1) women must pay for a consultation and the cost of expensive drugs they must supply on their own can make access to skilled care impossible. Photo: Pau Miranda/MSF

The three delays are often caused by traditions, practices, and resource shortages deeply rooted in local (especially rural) communities. In DRC, women lack decision-making power with regards to their health. Photo: Pau Miranda/MSF

Efforts by health authorities and humanitarian organizations, including MSF, have seen some success. More young mothers are slowly becoming aware that they need to get skilled care before, during, and after childbirth to better their and their babies’ chances of survival. Photo: Pau Miranda/MSF

Women wait for a consultation at the MSF-supported Kalungu health center. The “three delays” referred to by medical professionals as the major threats to women in labor apply perfectly to the situation in DRC. Photo: Pau Miranda/MSF

According to the World Health Organisation, 21,000 women died last year in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth: that’s one death every 25 minutes. More than 100,000 newborns (almost five percent of the country’s total) die at birth or just after. MSF works in South Kivu province, eastern DRC, to connect women with skilled care before, during, and after childbirth.