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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Get the latest updates from our programs in the field internationally and here in the United States.  

  • Liberia Success Story: Traditional Clinics Help Pregnant Women

    by Tyler Graf | Feb 12, 2015

    In Bomi County, Liberia, there’s a movement afoot to educate women on the dangers of delivering babies in the home.

    Clinical supervisors from Medical Teams International are making inroads in convincing women that, with anti-Ebola measures keeping the disease at bay, it has become safer for women to give birth at medical facilities.

    Support from MTI’s donors, like you, has made that possible. The lives of thousands, like Sawho Johnson and her two children, were improved — possibly saved — because you joined the team.

    Sawho gave birth to twins at an MTI-supervised facility after her mother-in-law, a traditional midwife, was convinced by an MTI clinical supervisor that it was safe to do so.

    Liberia, Ebola, midwives, community health
    Fatu Gebeh, from left, and Sawho Johnson hold the twins Sawho birthed at a medical clinic.

    That wasn’t so easy.

    Following the outbreak of Ebola, many of Liberia’s certified midwives and doctors began dying from the disease, a result of poor sanitation practices at hospitals and clinics. This led to fears circulating about the risks associated with coming into contact with pregnant women who may have Ebola. Many women were turned away from clinics during the height of the Ebola epidemic. Some died giving birth on the streets.

    Because there was a lack of trust between traditional midwives, certified midwives and other health practitioners, it was difficult for pregnant women, especially ones from rural villages, to receive regular maternity treatment. A number of traditional midwives turned to home births as an alternative, something Liberia’s Ministry of Health warned against prior to the Ebola outbreak.

    One of those traditional midwives was Sawho’s mother-in-law, Fatu Gebeh.

    “I consider it a shame that I live in a village that allows women to give birth in public without medical help,” Fatu said. “I won’t listen to any health worker because they want our population to reduce. That’s why they are allowing women to give birth in public without aid so they may die in child birth.”

    That credibility gap between health workers and the public, borne of the Ebola epidemic, needed to be filled. And that’s where MTI and your generous donations have played a significant role.

    MTI clinical supervisor Oscar Dolo has been working on an awareness campaign to convince traditional midwives that there are dangers associated with home deliveries.

    In Fatu’s case, it worked. The traditional midwife took Sawho to a clinic, where she gave birth to her twins — Fatu and Hawa Johnson.

    Your blessings and gifts are making a difference around the globe, among the world’s most vulnerable citizens. Through education programs and medical training in Liberia, we can make a difference and end the suffering.

  • Haiti Success Story: A Long Walk for Health

    by Tyler Graf | Feb 10, 2015

    What's a typical walk for most people?

    A post-meal excursion with the dog? A quick trip down to the corner store? Maybe it's one in a series of progressively infrequent jaunts that follows a misguided New Year's resolution? The kind that taper off for one reason or another.

    Whatever it may be for most people, it pales in comparison to what Marie Thérèse Louis did, all for her baby. 

    Marie lives in Leroux, a remote locality in Crochus, Haiti. Medical Teams International operates a Safe Motherhood Project in Crochu, the result of your inspiring donations. Among other things, the project trains women on proper prenatal practices.

    Your blessings and donations are getting the word out, and the word is working.

    After becoming aware of the importance of prenatal care, thanks to the work of MTI staff and volunteers, a pregnant Marie decided she had to visit the local clinic. That was a four-hour round trip journey – by foot. But did that dissuade Marie?

    No, it did not.

    Marie completed seven prenatal visits and delivered a healthy baby with the help of traditional birth attendants, trained by MTI.

    Your gifts and dedication are mobilizing teams around the world to empower vulnerable populations. Without your help, Marie wouldn’t have known what resources were available to her.

    It might have been a long walk. But it was well worth it. 

    Haiti, Crochu, Safe Motherhood Project, prenatal care
    Marie Thérèse Louis of Leroux Haiti would walk four hours round trip while pregnant to receive prenatal care at a local clinic.  
  • Success Story: Dieusel's PET cart

    by Tyler Graf | Feb 06, 2015

    Thirty-year-old Dieusel J. has cerebral palsy, which severely limits his mobility. Without a family, and thus no support system, Dieusel has made due, but it hasn't been easy.

    Nothing is easy in Haiti. People with disabilities often don't receive the care they need, and most can't find work. In a developing country like Haiti, 82 percent of people with disabilities live on less than $1.25 a day.

    But thanks to you support of the Haiti Advantage Program, which advocates for people with disabilities and provides them with prostheses and other devices, Dieusel has mobility.

    Haiti, Advantage Program, PET Cart, Medical Teams International, MTI
    Dieusel J., who has cerebral palsy, received a personal energy cart, which he can propel with the use of his arms.

    That comes as the result of a personal energy transportation cart, or PET for short. These carts are specially designed for people with disabilities, especially those who live in rural areas. They're like handmade tricycles with sturdy wheels that can navigate rough streets. But instead of having peddles, they have hand cranks.

    Dieusel, who lives independently, relies on his cart. When his last one deteriorated because of the rain, Medical Teams International was able to replace it. 

    Dieusel is more than a patient to MTI staff and volunteers in Haiti, he's a friend. This work is only made possible through your generous offerings and inspirational blessings.Through teamwork, lives are transformed, and people like Dieusel can have the dignity and independence they deserve.

  • Cambodian Success Story: A Mother's Life Saved

    by Tyler Graf | Feb 04, 2015

    A 25-year-old Cambodian woman owes her life to a special type of garment that literally hugged the life back into her.

    Your generous gifts provided that life-saving squeeze.

    The woman is alive today because of what’s known as an anti-shock garment, a compression suit that wraps around the body and shunts blood from the lower extremities. The purpose of the garment is to reverse hemorrhaging that can occur after a woman gives birth. Women in developing countries, like Cambodia, are at a greater risk of dying during childbirth, often the result of post-birth hemorrhaging.

    In Cambodia, 250 women die for every 10,000 live births. And while the figure appears high, it could be much worse. Over the past decade, the country has slashed its maternal mortality rate nearly in half because of the use of anti-shock garments.

    One of those women saved by an anti-shock garment was “Kent,” the 25-year-old Cambodian woman. She was pregnant with her first child. While Kent's pregnancy progressed smoothly — aside from some bouts of morning sickness — her condition would eventually take a turn for the worse. 

    During the actual birth — that’s when problems arose. It was at that point when Kent started bleeding uncontrollably.

    Doctors did their best. They tried to repair the sutures, but Kent continued to bleed for an hour and a half. Her condition worsened, and she eventually descended into shock because of the loss of blood.

    After exhausting all other resources, a doctor put Kent into the anti-shock garment and sent her to a larger hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. As the garment hugged her body, she thought she was going to die. Kent’s baby daughter was sent home with relatives, while Kent stayed at the hospital and received five units of blood.

    It took Kent five days to recuperate but, in the end, she lived.

    Cambodia, Medical Teams International, Anti-Shock Garments, infant health
    Kent and her baby daughter, center, sit surrounded by family members. Kent's life was saved during childbirth by what's known as an anti-shock garment.

    Your donations, which ensure that anti-shock garments are prevalent in places like Cambodia, saved Kent’s life. She encourages support for the program, so even more anti-shock garments can be distributed to Cambodian clinics and hospitals.

    Through tears, Kent said she is grateful to be alive and to have a healthy baby. Looking toward the future, Kent said she hopes that one day her daughter grows up to be a doctor or a nurse. And, if that dream becomes a reality, Kent’s daughter will assuredly recognize the life-saving impact of anti-shock garments.

    Medical Teams International development officer Deb Hirsh, who recently traveled to Cambodia, returned with this story.
  • Haiti Success Story: Knowledge Empowers Marie

    by Tyler Graf | Jan 30, 2015

    Haiti, Crochu, community health, family planning

    Marie Lourdes Edgard receives a shot at an MTI-coordinated community health rally post in Haiti.

    When Marie Lourdes Edgard’s husband said she couldn’t go to a clinic to receive health care for herself and her 9-month-old baby, she pleaded.

    The baby needed to be immununized, and Marie needed care as well. But Marie’s husband stood pat. The answer: no.

    That’s not uncommon in Haiti, where what a husband says often goes unquestioned. But sometimes, a little education can make a big difference. After several visits from members of a local mothers’ club, sponsored by Medical Teams International, Marie’s husband finally allowed her to bring the baby to an MTI-backed rally post for immunization.

    While at the rally post, Marie participated in an education program on family planning. It was there that Marie shared something with the nurses that she hadn’t told her husband: That she would like to space out her births. She wanted more control over when she became pregnant. This was not something she could tell her husband.

    To facilitate a conversation on the topic, one of Medical Teams’ promoters accompanied the couple to a counseling session about the importance of family planning. After the discussion, the husband agreed for his wife to adopt a form of contraception.

    Because of the support of Medical Teams’ donors to empower traditionally vulnerable people, Marie is now more in control of her health and the health of her baby. Knowledge is a powerful tool in transforming a person’s health for the better, and Marie is a living example of that. Your dedication matters in the lives of people like Marie.

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