Today I want to be an obstetrician. Last week it was an ophthalmologist and then a psychiatrist after the moving talks we heard about the needs and opportunities in those fields. Yesterday we heard Jacqui Hill speak about the plight of woman in Afghanistan which UNICEF describes as ‘one of the worst places in the world in which to be pregnant.’ The statistics are shocking – in the remote district where Jacqui worked:
1 in 16 women die in childbirth
74% of children born to those mothers die
3% women see a health worker for antenatal care and 1% for delivery
Only 5% women can read
Poverty is one of the causes of these appalling figures but just as important is the low value put on women. They may be left in labour at home for days because the effort and cost of taking them to a health facility is not considered worthwhile. They are hidden behind the burka and treated worse than the animals in some households. How different to Jesus, who spoke with such love and respect to the bleeding woman in Mark chapter 5 – or Paul, who told husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church.
We heard Roquia’s story – a woman who had been in labour for four days before her family decided to take her to a clinic. It was a three day journey to get there by stretcher, across mountains and through rivers. At the small, remote clinic they weren’t used to doing surgery but Jacqui knew that Roquia would die if they didn’t try to take out the dead baby and sew up her ruptured uterus. So they boiled up some instruments in the pressure cooker, dragged a table into the biggest room, gave some IV ketamine and performed a successful operation. Roquia lived. Jacqui says
‘I never would have thought I could do it – but God enables you when you need it.’
Lastly, we heard about the 2 million women in the world who suffer from vesico-vaginal fistula as a result of prolonged labour with no obstetric care. These women are totally shunned by society – their baby is dead, their husbands divorce them and they are left as outcasts. But an operation can cure them completely and restore their dignity. What better thing than to be an obstetrician and transform these women’s lives?
Let’s ‘give up our small ambitions’ – and go change the world!