*I tried, but in the end, could not resist quoting Eminem.
Last week my municipality experienced its first maternal death of the year. The woman who died should not have died. Her pregnancy was high-risk as she was already the mother of 12 children, but she refused to see a doctor and died during childbirth. A brigadista lives in her town and was aware of her condition, but how much can a brigadista do? Ultimately, the woman (or the husband) makes the decision about where she will give birth.
Another death. Another mistake. A woman who worked at the Casa Materna died suddenly in the hospital due to severe anaphylactic shock to a medicine injected into her by a doctor. She entered the hospital because she was vomiting; she left the hospital dead. She was 37.
So now what? Now we have a new hospital director. I met him today, and aside from his atrocious taste in baseball teams (he´s a Yankees fan!), he seems passionate about public health and I´m excited to work with him. Other changes. Health fairs are canceled from now until FOR-E-VER (Sandlot). Instead of health fairs, we will be making house-to-house visits in each of our 283-odd communities with all of our 60,000+ odd population to see what the needs are. This will be interesting and I´ll let you know how it goes.
In addition, my counterpart and I met with the brigadistas of the community that experienced the maternal death. We discussed what happened and what can be done in the future to prevent more deaths. Ideas were thrown out there: a health fair, a MINSA visit, a women´s group, more family planning. It gave me an idea which I hope will lead to a meaningful project to work on over the next couple years: we can train the brigadistas to operate their own women´s groups in their own communities. I am going to write a survey to give to the brigadistas to find out if this could work and if there is interest. More to follow.
So where does this leave us? From unnecessary deaths came some necessary changes, which, with any luck, will catalyze positive action. And just like Eminem, “I won´t back down, oh no, I won´t back down.”