MALI: MIDWIVES AND MOBILE CLINICS AT THE HEART OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND PREVENTION EDUCATION
The crisis that has gripped Mali for over 10 years now, particularly in the north and center of the country, has taken its toll on the country’s healthcare system. Access to quality healthcare is increasingly difficult for the Malian population, including in the central and southern regions, which are directly affected by the growing insecurity affecting the entire country. In these regions, women and children face particular vulnerabilities in the health sector, exacerbated by the lack of functional health infrastructures and qualified health personnel.
© studio 360 | Première Urgence Internationale
Première Urgence Internationale is working in the Gao, Kidal, Bandiagara and San regions to improve access for crisis-affected populations to quality medical and nutritional healthcare, particularly for women and children. In the San region, more specifically in the Tominian cercle, Première Urgence Internationale is deploying two mobile clinics to meet the most urgent health, nutrition and psychosocial support needs of populations far from health centers and internally displaced persons.
The mobile clinics are staffed by a doctor, a nurse, a midwife and a community mobilizer. Fatoumata Diawara has been a midwife for Première Urgence Internationale since April 2020. She says she always wanted to become a midwife: “From a very young age, I wanted to do something to help my fellow man. I’ve always been drawn to healthcare.”
TESTIMONY OF FATOUMATA DIAWARA, MIDWIFE FOR PREMIERE URGENCE INTERNATIONALE
Having previously worked in the Bandiagara cercle, Fatoumata is now part of a mobile clinic team that operates in villages in the Tominian cercle located more than 15 kilometers from health centers, as well as in sites for displaced people who have fled their villages due to insecurity.
“I really love my job. In the villages where we work, people don’t have much money, or live too far from the health centers. What gives me the greatest pleasure is the recognition of the people we help. When I get out of the vehicle, everyone shouts “Fatoumata is here! It’s a great joy for me!”
Midwives play a key role in providing basic maternal and child healthcare, reaching populations that would otherwise have little access to these services. Their presence and expertise help to improve women’s reproductive health and reduce the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth. They are responsible for monitoring the health of pregnant women, assisting with deliveries, and monitoring the health of mothers and newborns in the post-partum period. Midwives play a vital role in educating women and families about reproductive health, hygiene, nutrition and disease prevention, especially sexually transmitted infections. They also work to demystify certain traditional practices that could endanger the health of women and newborns. If a patient presents complications that cannot be managed by the mobile clinic, the midwives refer her to higher-level health facilities for specialized medical care.
The conditions under which the mobile clinic teams work are nevertheless difficult, as Fatoumata recounts: “We often drive a long way to reach the villages, and sometimes encounter problems on the road because of the insecurity in the region. Some days, after working in the field with the mobile clinic during the day, the obstetric nurses or matrons in the villages where we sleep call us to assist with deliveries at night, in community health centers that have no qualified staff.”
Despite the difficulties, Fatoumata remains a passionate midwife. “Two patients I helped deliver called their daughters Fatoumata. That made me very happy, and it’s what motivates me to keep working to help give life!“.
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