Médecins Sans Frontières ends activities in Quibdَ, Colombia after reaching objective to improve medical care for mothers and babies

May 10, 2010

Médecins Sans Frontières ends activities in Quibdَ, Colombia after reaching objective to improve medical care for mothers and babies

Quibdó/Bogotá, Five years after work started in San Francisco de Asís hospital, international humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has achieved its objectives to improve quality of medical care for mothers and newborns and decrease the maternal mortality.

“As a humanitarian organisation, MSF’s role is not to replace the state in its responsibilities,” said Joachim Delville, MSF’s coordinator in Colombia. “Now, having reached these objectives, we consider the hospital has what it takes to run the maternity department and there is a clear commitment from their side to continue providing quality medical services to the women of Chocó and their newborn babies,” said Delville.

MSF started providing sexual and reproductive healthcare in the maternity ward in Quibdó in San Francisco de Asis hospital in 2005. This is the only hospital providing specialized maternity care for a catchment population of 235,000 women of reproductive age in Chocó, the poorest region in Colombia with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.

Between 2005 and 2010, MSF renovated the maternity ward and created a new neonatology service, where babies born prematurely or with complications can receive specialized medical care. Since October 2009, more than 220 newborn babies have been admitted to the neonatology ward. MSF also donated equipment, organised continuous training for hospital staff working in the maternity and neonatology wards, and implemented family planning and comprehensive care for victims of sexual violence. Since 2004, the number of beds in the maternity ward has increased from 27 to 58 and the number of deliveries has more than doubled from 1,036 to 2,669 per year. The maternal mortality rate has drastically decreased: in 2004 nearly 1% of new deliveries resulted in the death of the mother; in 2009, fewer than 0.19% of mothers died as a result of childbirth.

“These achievements are the result of investing in the buildings, equipment and the availability and continuous training of staff,” said Dr. Roberta Petrucci, responsible for MSF’s medical activities in Quibdó. “To maintain the quality of care, it is crucial that the hospital keeps investing in these three elements.”

Until 2009, MSF ran urban and rural mobile clinics in Quibdó, providing antenatal care and health promotion services. Despite the end of its activities in Quibdó, MSF continues providing sexual and reproductive healthcare in Chocó region through mobile clinics along the Baudó river. “Although improving second-level maternal care is crucial to reduce maternal mortality in Chocó region, it is also important to promote safe deliveries and ensure an efficient referral system,” said Dr. Petrucci.

MSF has worked in Colombia since 1985 and is currently running programmes in 10 of the 32 regions in the country.

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