Author: Jennifer Werdenberg, MD

Dispatch from Rwanda: This is justice

Jennifer Werdenberg Rwanda mother nurse child
(Courtesy Jennifer Werdenberg)

Every year there are 2.9 million neonatal deaths and 2.6 million stillbirths [globally], most of which occur in low and middle income countries. Lawn JE et al. Lancet. 2014 Jul 12;384(9938):189-205

The red dirt road brings me back to these wards, these walls, these children. I’m about half way into my second six months in Rwanda working for Partners In Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima (PIH/IMB) as a district clinical advisor to two district hospitals — which is really just a fancy way of saying that I’m the (only) attending pediatrician on two government hospital wards. I walk into the neonatology unit and the nurses are bustling around, hooking babies up to CPAP, performing the first steps of life saving care for tiny (800-1500g, or 1.8-3.3 lbs.) premature babies who the doctors have not been able to come see yet because they are busy in the other wards with other critically ill patients.

Rwanda is unique in that almost 90 percent of births take place in facilities. But despite that fact, two-thirds of neonatal deaths still occur within the first 7 days of life while babies are still receiving facility-based care. …Read More