- Community-based referral mechanisms are helping more and more women in Sudan deliver their babies safely.
- The maternal mortality rate in Sudan is 295 deaths per 100,00 live births and almost one quarter of births are not attended by skilled health personnel.
- As of 7 November 2020, there are 14,115 people confirmed to have COVID-19 Sudan, including 1,116 fatalities, according to the Federal Ministry of Health.
- Sudan has seen a fivefold increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, up from about 10 cases per day at the start of November to around 50 cases a day.
- The Government of Sudan and aid organizations continue to provide life-saving assistance to people affected by floods and disease outbreaks in the country.
Community-based referral mechanism systems help women deliver safely
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sudan has been working towards the reduction of maternal and child morbidity and mortality, raising awareness within communities about reproductive health and gender-based violence. Sudan has a high maternal mortality rate of 295 deaths per 100,00 live births, according to the UNFPA 2020 State of World Population report, while the world average is 211 deaths. Almost one-quarter of births in Sudan are not attended by skilled health personnel.
One way to reach these objectives is to establish community-based referral mechanism systems. The process begins with a selection of community volunteers, trained in reproductive health (RH) and management. An executive committee is formed which is provided with funds from monthly community contributions to create the “referral of pregnancy and childbirth seed”. The fund allows women to borrow money. The top priorities are high-risk pregnancies, women who will deliver with caesarean section, and women with bleeding. The women who borrow the money, refund it when they are able.
Safa Mohammed, a 19-year-old from Awad village in rural Kassala State, is one of the women who benefitted from the “referral of pregnancy and childbirth seed.”
Safa was married when she was 18 years old and became pregnant the same year. While visiting a midwife at the local health centre for her antenatal care, she was told that she had a high-risk pregnancy because she had high blood pressure. She was referred to Elsaudi Maternity Hospital. Here she would continue her care and eventual delivery. However, the hospital was one and half hours away from Kassala Town. The roads were bad, and on top of this came the rainy season and a country-wide lockdown because of COVID-19. Safa’s husband lost his job and income during the pandemic lockdown and they could not afford transportation and consultation fees at the Elsaudi hospital. Fortunately, Safa was a member of the “referral of pregnancy and childbirth seed” supported by UNFPA. She was able to obtain a loan that allowed her to rent a car to take her to the hospital for her appointment and also to pay for the caesarean operation. Safa delivered a healthy baby girl who she called Fatima.
“This referral and the service saved my and my daughter’s life. I have since mentioned this to many other women from my village and even villages far away and they all understand and encourage the importance of the referral service and wish something similar will be established in their own communities,” said Safa.
These referral services are important and contribute to the reduction of maternal and child morbidity and mortality. More than 30 women benefited from the ““referral of pregnancy and childbirth seed” and even women who were not members in the “seed” benefited from it.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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