15/04/2019 | Press releases

“It was a privilege and hopefully made a difference”

Two midwives who spent a week teaching new skills to medical staff in Africa have described the trip as a “privilege” which they hope will play a small part in improving care for mums-to-be and their babies.

Consultant midwife Helen Smith and colleague Ruth Keen traveled to Liberia during March with the Life for African Mothers charity, which aims to make birth safer by providing education, equipment and medication.

During the trip they spent four days training 15 midwives and nurses in the hope of helping tackle statistics which show that one in every 23 Liberian women currently dies during childbirth. The duo, who are both based at Ipswich Hospital, also visited three medical units to see first-hand the conditions local midwives work in, before going onto meet one of the most senior politicians working for the Ministry of Health.

“Liberia has been ravaged by Ebola and the care which is available is extremely basic,” said Helen.

The medical staff work in the most challenging circumstances and with very limited resources.

The staff we trained were so engaged and really want to make things better, and by the end of our trip there was a marked improvement in their knowledge.

It was such a privilege to be able to spend some time in these people’s lives and hopefully make a little bit of difference. It won’t be a country-changing contribution, but if even just one midwife can resuscitate a baby more effectively because of our visit, that would be a real positive.

I would thoroughly recommend the experience. I’d love to return to Liberia to see what care is like in more rural areas, whether any progress has been made in the hospitals and if I could do anything more to help, as I think we all have a responsibility to do what we can to make other people’s lives better.

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