Our first attempt at getting a story done on Maternal Health was friday. We had planned well, contacts made, things lined up, driver booked, all ducks in a row. First stop was to be the new Ministry of Health build for a clip on the stats. 994 women die per 100,000 live births. We arrived early thanks to a speedy driver. After making contact with the interviewee, we soon discovered that he first had to run his friend to the bank, 20 minutes or so. Which of course means 2 hours and I still might not come back. We did get a phone number, room number and name for a Dr. that might help us. So after about 20 minutes of no answer Laurel just started knocking on office doors. Eventually she made it up to meet the Chief Medical Officer of Liberia. Once in while being pushy works for you.
Interview in the can we headed for lunch. Lebanese food. It's safe, and everywhere. Next up was to pick up Nathan. A JHR graduate and the Human Rights Reporter for Liberian Broadcasting System. It was great to have him along as he was able to translate the driver's English for us. As we headed out of town we had to detour around some road closures and wound up in the back streets of Red Light District. One of the best places to get robbed or pick pocketed. Fortunately for us we just leaned on the horn to get people out of the way. Your usual foreigners just pushing their way around.
Once we got back on the paved road it seems the driver decide that speed was best. Never mind the potholes that would swallow you front end and snap the axial or blow out your tires, 65 mph it is. After about 45 minutes of this and a few “slow the #$% down” he managed to blow the shock absorbers out on the car that someone lent him.
We turned off the pavement and headed into the bush. Destination Todee District. Laurel had arranged for some mid wives to meet us at a Gobah Town. They are luck enough to be serviced a Presbyterian clinic nearby. We then pushed on further into the jungle and headed for Qurment where there are no services. If there are complications at birth, the local women must walk, or hope that someone can drive them to the closest facility. 30-45 minutes by car. A hell of a lot longer if your walking. Most of these deaths are preventable by North American standards. Not so much here. Simple minor things can kill you.
While in Qurment we met two week old Prince. He was lucky. His mother gave birth with no complications with the help of the local mid wife.
After our little exploration in the Liberian bush we crammed back into the beaten vehicle and headed for home. We limped back to Monrovia at a slower pace with an experience that I can only show you a few photos that don't do it justice.
I hope to post the story when we get it together in the coming days.