BENEFITING: VILLAGE HEALTH WORKS
On Mother's Day 2003, the United Nations ranked Burundi as one of the world's five worst places for women and children. Burundian women die with startling frequency: 1 in 9 die during pregnancy or in childbirth. In addition, nearly 13 percent of Burundian babies die before their first birthday; almost 1 in 5 die before they reach age 5 (UNICEF) from causes that are utterly preventable.
From Village Health Works' earliest days, when the clinic consisted of bare ground and brush, we have been working to guarantee that the women and their children -- the pillars of any forward-moving society -- are healthy. Women's health outcomes are deeply linked to economic and social disparities. Further, the direct correlation between improvements in maternal/child survival and improved overall health within the community is well established and supported by numerous research studies. VHW is working to provide quality health care in a dignified environment regardless of a patient's ability to pay, beginning with the women and children who make up the large majority (more than 65%) of our patients. One of our key priorities is to greatly reduce maternal and child mortality rates.
Before Village Health Works existed, prenatal care in the Southern region of Burundi was virtually non-existent. Prenatal visits not only help us identify and treat complications early, but they also serve as a non-threatening entry point into the healthcare system. Currently, VHW's prenatal care program provides counseling, family planning services, vaccinations, TB and HIV prevention and treatment.
Lack of space and capacity in our 10-bed inpatient ward has forced us to discourage pregnant women from delivering at our facility, the cost of which is high. Women are forced to give birth at home unattended and on unsanitary mud floors. The other alternative is that they seek care at the sub-standard regional hospital, a visit that requires days of travel and can lead to death or imprisonment in the hospital for those unable to pay. As an example, the nearest regional hospital routinely provides caesarean sections without access to oxygen or a blood bank in case of emergency.
Keeping the needs of the community in mind, we have now created the design for the eco-friendly Women’s Health Pavilion. It will include a surgical suite, which will contain two full operating rooms, a blood bank, and 38 beds in pre-op, post-op, neonatal and inpatient wards. Additional facilities to be included in the plan include a morgue, residence for visiting physicians and TB isolation ward. In short, this will be a facility that furthers our ultimate goal of becoming a model health and training center for the entire country of Burundi.
We expect that the Women's Health Pavilion will shine a light not only in Burundi, but beyond, and stand as a true testament to the strength and critical importance of the women and children we serve. Help us fund the creation of the Women’s Health Pavilion by donating here!