Although problems at birth are unpredictable, most can be treated. If no one is present at the birth complications cannot be detected and often go without treatment, putting the lives of the mother and newborn at risk.
The 2004 tsunami that struck Aceh, Indonesia, destroyed many health centres and hospitals killed thousands of health workers. However, women and children continue to need basic medical care every day and midwives have an important role of delivering new life and new hope.
Saved by the nightshift
On the morning of the tsunami, Elizar, a midwife from Lambaro Skep village in Banda Aceh, was not at home with her family. She had been working a nightshift at a health clinic in the highlands of Montasik village and had taken her youngest son with her the evening before.
Looking back now she can hardly believe that this decision saved her life and that of her eight-month-old baby, Iza.
After the disaster Elizar attended sessions run by Islamic Relief for midwives to help them overcome the trauma they had experienced. The sessions also provided professional support so that they could return to work.
Elizar was one of 300 women to receive health training from Islamic Relief and now works as a midwife at Islamic Relief’s Neuheun Pustu community health centre in Aceh Besar and actively promotes mother and child health care.
New clinics and village health centres
Over the past two years, Islamic Relief has constructed 19 health clinics and is currently building eight more. Seven of these clinics provide specialist health care services for pregnant women, new mothers and young children, including services such as pre and post natal care, reproductive health education, vaccinations and nutritional advice.
Islamic Relief has also constructed seven ‘Posyandus’ in Aceh Besar and Aceh Jaya which provide community-based mother and child health care for around 50 people every month.
Posyandus, or Community Health Posts, are village health centres that open once a month for health checks, pregnancy and child growth monitoring and health education. These services are provided by a visiting midwife and mothers from the community who have been trained in maternal health and child development.