Three years ago, Guinebor II community hospital opened, off the beaten track on the edge of N’Djamena in Chad. Celebrating this anniversary, the hospital staff look back over the last three years and reflect on similarities to the Christmas story.
The hospital has seen the birth of 1,830 babies and treated 35,000 outpatients.
So far this month (half way through December), there have been 53 deliveries, more than three a day. One caesarean really stands out.
A woman was due to have an elective caesarean at term before going into labour. Previously, she had had two caesareans, but no living baby. Despite lots of explanation, the mother failed to come for the appointment and arrived four days late, in advanced labour but unable to deliver. Speed was required to save the baby and a caesarean was quickly performed. However, on opening the abdomen, the scar on the uterus was found to have ruptured and the baby was lying lifeless among the intestines. No spontaneous breathing and a very slow heartbeat. A third dead baby and a seriously sick mother looked very likely. Somehow an amazing turnaround took place: with resuscitation the baby’s heart started to beat faster, the woman’s uterus was repaired, and mother and baby made an uneventful recovery, leaving hospital after five days.
As the Christmas party was finishing, a cold wind blew from the desert. Temperatures are falling as low as 13C overnight at present so everyone was keen to get home. As is traditional during the festive season, a minibus taking people home got stuck in a drift on the road and needed pushing out, but being Chad it was a sand rather than a snow!
The focus now turns to plan the next phase for the maternity services with the newly funded programme of community antenatal outreach, training and maternity care. Plans are also being drawn up and funding sought for a much needed maternity building. The current maternity wing is often full to overflowing, and staff don’t want to be saying “No room in the ward”.