According to the WHO 45% of African children's deaths under 5 years old were newborns, many only living the first few days after birth! Now more than ever is Midwives are called to duty beyond their borders. Although fertility remains high across Africa, mothers and babies still struggle to stay healthy and alive.
ABOUT THIS PLACEMENT
Age requirement: 18 years +
Student Intern Requirements: Degree/University/College level minimum second year Nursing or related studies.
Professional Volunteer Requirements: Minimum 6 months work experience in a related field.
Number of volunteers: Solo individuals, Groups are welcome
Duration: From 2 weeks to 12 months.
Start date: No specific start date, start at any time during the year.
$150 registration fee
Book between 2 weeks and 12 months (see exact fees)
Placement preparation, facilitation & coordination
Airport pick up + drop off
Free 1 hour Swahili Language class with an experience professional instructor in Tanzania.
$25 per week Tanzania medical practice fee to Ministry of Health
"Neonatal deaths are inextricably linked to the health of the mother during pregnancy and to the conditions of delivery and newborn care. Close to 8,000 women die every year during pregnancy and child birth as a result of conditions that could have been prevented or treated. Poor quality of care due to an insufficient number of skilled health workers and lack of basic equipment, as well as long distances from home to health care facilities are major deterrents to facility delivery. Women living in rural areas, those who come from the poorest families and those who are less educated, have the least access to skilled attendance at delivery. Women who start having children in adolescence tend to have more children and shorter spacing between pregnancies – all of which are risk factors for maternal and neonatal mortality. The neonatal mortality rate is highest among mothers under-20 years of age at 45 per 1000 live births compared with 29 per 1000 for mothers aged 20 to 29 years.
Maternal death rates are closely linked with the high fertility rates and low socio-economic status of women, especially the lack of influence that women have over their own health care or over the daily household budget. According to national statistics, every year over 450 women die from pregnancy related complications for every 100,000 live births. Causes of maternal death include obstetric haemorrhage, unsafe abortions, eclampsia, obstructed labour and infections. Low availability of emergency obstetric and new born care services, chronic shortage of skilled health providers together with a weak referral system contribute to the observed high maternal deaths."-UNICEF
Now is the time to challenge ourselves as practitioners and help to empower those who do not benefit from medical advancements and knowledge. Contribute your time and support the care of pregnant women and mothers delivering newborns in Africa. All new mum's and babies need care and support through such a special time in their lives, sometimes the busy and over stretched staff just can't give every patient the tender loving care they deserve. This is where you come in. Volunteer your care and support in our busy maternity and delivery wards, your contribution is priceless and unforgettable for new mothers and the medical staff.
There is a huge need for midwives to volunteer all across Africa with mothers & babies, helping to safely deliver newborns and support pregnant women!
"Before commencing my placement I had honestly mentally prepared myself for the “culture shock”. I was prepared to see poor conditions, limited resources and poor treatment of the women. However what I did not prepare myself for was the battle to assimilate and integrate into the team of nurses/midwives. In hindsight, and overall, my experience at Levolosi was incredible and I was in no way ready to leave. However at times, especially in the first week, I was very ready to book the next plane home.
The first two weeks proved to be the most difficult for me. As a young midwife, I am very used to being supported by senior midwives, I am also very used to midwifery as a group practice involving team work throughout the entire shift. Coming in to Levolosi as a qualified midwife had its advantages but also its disadvantages. The advantages included having the appropriate midwifery knowledge and skills to (quite literally) throw on a pair of sterile gloves and accoucher a birth as I turned around to see the presenting part on view. It meant I could decrease the workload on the local nurses/midwives by attending full antenatal assessments of women and transferring them to antenatal ward as they silently progressed through the first stage of labour (I am still to this day in awe of Tanzanian women’s pain thresholds). It meant I could receive in caesarean sections and knew the policies around sterile fields, aseptic techniques and those associated with operating theatres. It meant I could prepare a woman for a caesarean section by cannulating and commencing an IV infusion of normal saline and putting in a indwelling urinary catheter. It meant I could give IM injections, IV medication and remove urinary catheters once the woman was 24hrs post-delivery. It meant I could perform solo (in one occasion) or work with the nurses/midwives in neonatal resuscitations and make important decisions re if a newborn should be transferred, if a woman should go for a caesarean section etc. All of these things I performed on a daily basis however it wasn’t until my third week that the nurses/midwives started trusting me and my practice, trusting that I was skilled enough to work alongside them. That’s where the disadvantages come in. Being qualified meant the nurses/midwives were very unaccepting (for the lack of a better word) of me. They, at first, didn’t believe or trust I was qualified and when I began to perform tasks and use skills they would continuously tell me my practice or judgment was wrong. They then talk about me in Swahili to their colleges making my self-confidence plummet through the floor. That’s when the desire to jump on the next plane home set in. However Pearl warned me of this, she reminded me that it wasn’t malicious it was their culture and I kept that in the back of my mind the entire time. In hindsight this questioning and feeling of being a poor practitioner did wonders for my self-confidence. Confidence not only in myself as a person, but in myself as a midwife. It, strangely enough, made my love for midwifery grow, it made me back myself, trust myself and become my own hype girl because I knew what I was doing was right and I knew I was doing it because I had a burning passion to empower women. Having been trained in a tertiary (level 6) hospital, I was accustomed to clean wards, single rooms, sterile/single use equipment and unlimited resources. Working at Levolosi was a big shock to that system. Women labour side by side, sometimes two to a bed. In the Labour Ward there are three beds, no curtains or any attempt to provide privacy. The door is always open. Fetal heart rates are auscultated using a pinnard, ARM’s are performed with broken oxytocin vials. There is really adequate sterile equipment and women have to supply their own cord clamps, congas, sterile gloves, oxytocin, sutures, cotton and more. Although it was a shock and hurdle to practice in such conditions, it was something that I acclimatized too quite quickly and was able to provide the best possible care in the given situation.
As mentioned, overall and in hindsight my time at Levolosi was an incredible experience. It changed the way I viewed myself as a person, a midwife and a member of this world. It enhanced my love for midwifery and empowered me to use my love, skill, knowledge and determination to return to a place like Levolosi and work to make it better, for both the staff and patients.
The highlight of my experience was my last shift at Levolosi. My travel buddy/boyfriend who is a pre-med student was working in the Minor Theatre however there were no patients. Labour Ward was busy so he came over and experienced labour and birth for the first time. There was just myself and another nurse and within the space of an hour we had three births. The first was very straightforward and he stood and observed. He learnt how and when to give IM oxytocin, how to swaddle and weigh a newborn etc. Quickly after another baby was born, the nurse called me over as the baby was very evidently premature and required full resuscitation. As the nurse and I started compressions on this baby we hear a grunt and both look left to see another woman crowning, quite literally about to deliver. I leave the nurse with the resuscitation and smack on some sterile gloves, I tell Alex to draw up the oxytocin and lay out the congas and he does. The baby is quickly born and in perfect condition (thank goodness). Alex administers IM oxytocin (the first IM injection he’s ever given), and takes the baby to swaddle and weigh it while I deliver the placenta and ensure all blood/clots are expelled. Not many people in this world can say that they delivered a baby with their boyfriend but I can, and that’s something that will make me smile until the day I die.
(The premature baby was successfully resuscitated and transferred to NICU at Mt Meru)."