African culture Day Ten: More Women’s Health

Mary Hopper talked to us again, this time looking at the impact of not understanding culture on care…

There has been lots of awareness throughout the course about the impact of culture. Most of the speakers through the last two weeks have mentioned the shocks and surprises of moving between the developed and developing world.

Pregnant patient in theeatre Day Nine: Women’s Health

Birth complications means many women end up with fistulas that leak urine and faeces continuously. Women are socially ostracised.

We watched the story of a lady called Mastula, and her experience of her life being turned upside down by a fistula. Lifetime risk of dying from childbirth and pregnancy. In the west it is 1 in 4300. In Afghanistan, it is 1 in 11.

Picture of HIV Virus Day Four: HIV/AIDS

Gisela Schneider opened the day on HIV. She told us two stories, one of a bishop at a national conference, washing the feet of those with HIV, and another, of a pastor apologising, in tears, to a woman who said how she has been unable to speak publically about her HIV status. The pastor apologised, because Christians too easily judge it as a moral problem, and forget that there are people in the midst of it who simply need the love of Christ.

When she first worked in Gambia in the 80s, HIV arrived, but it was simply referred to as “the disease”. No-one would talk about it, no one would accept it, and it was simply hoped that the patients would die and take away the shame from the family. The Lancet article in 1985 was the first to describe a hetrosexual disease spread by sexual contact. At that time, patients simply died.

The waiting game

Kat was due to have our baby on Monday. Two days later, she still looks pretty fat, and I can’t see any soiled nappies anywhere, so I guess that hasn’t happened. This isn’t a new, or shocking phenomenon; first babies are often a week late – in some countries your due date for the first is 41 weeks rather than 40.

However, what’s weird for me is that the reality of the situation seems to be decreasing. For three weeks now, I’ve been going to work, expecting a call at any moment, “IT’S COMING!”, followed by a frantic dash back home, en route to the hospital.