FAME’s First Maternal Death

Beautiful Tanzania in March, 2015. Every Mother Counts currently works with We Care Solar, Ujenzi Trust and Foundation for African Medicine & Education (FAME) to provide 50 rural health centers with solar powered electricity, training health workers to prevent deaths and disibilities from postpartum hemorrhage, and supporting FAME Hospital’s provision of comprehensive pregnancy care and safe delivery, patient education and healthcare worker training. (Photo: Heather Armstrong.)

At Every Mother Counts we love to share the positive news of the impact that our work is making with our grantee partners on the ground, but it is equally important to share the other stories that we encounter. It is with heavy hearts that we share this story, which truly exemplifies why we do the work that we do.

Every Mother Counts first began working with Foundation for African Medicine & Education (FAME) in Tanzania nearly two years ago. An estimated 8,200 women and girls die in Tanzania each year from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Our support of FAME Hospital’s provision of comprehensive pregnancy and delivery care, patient education and healthcare worker training has impacted over 20,000 lives to date.

Through our work with FAME we have accomplished so much. Yet, we still face the devastating reality of the risks of pregnancy and childbirth that women in the area face. A lack of transportation and access to skilled workers and medical facilities for emergency care are so often the difference between life and death.

Like so many rural women in African countries, an 18-year old young woman, Agnes (a pseudonym) from the Masai Tribe delivered her baby at home in her remote village. Sadly, Agnes’ baby was stillborn and she bled profusely following the delivery.

Shortly after, she was transported from her village to the nearest Health Center, two hours away. Upon reaching the clinic, health workers discovered that a second baby was yet to be born. Agnes was immediately sent to FAME Medical for skilled emergency care, where she arrived roughly 45 minutes later in terrible shape.

Agnes was in hypothermic shock, in dire need of blood and had to be resuscitated upon arrival. Sadly, there was no longer a fetal heartbeat. After delivering the still born twin and complications with the delivery of the placenta, she arrested again. Despite now having access to medication and excellent care, it was too late and Agnes tragically could not be saved.

This was FAME’s first maternal death. Despite doing everything they could to save this precious life, the sadness and sense of loss was palpable. With the help of Every Mother Counts, FAME is working hard to prevent devastating events like this one.

This story is an important reminder of the barriers that countless women face in trying to reach medical care.

FAME is continuing to develop education programs and comprehensive health services for pregnant women, including reaching out to those who serve them in the villages. FAME equips doctors and nurses with the skills and resources they need to successfully respond to obstetrical emergencies and creates the necessary infrastructure to facilitate safe motherhood. These are just a few of the many ways FAME is making their small corner of Tanzania a safer place to become a mother.

To learn more about our work in Tanzania and how you can help visit www.everymothercounts.org.

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