On June 15th, the midwife (Miss Florence) of Waterfield Primary Health Care Center (WPHCC) and I went into the New Kakata City community to do public health work with big bellies (pregnant women) and new moms. This consisted of passing out prenatal vitamins, educating mothers on the importance of vaccinating their newborns and how to properly care for their newborns. This education is very important when you look at the recent statistics. During 2002-2006, only 39% of children under the age of two had received their recommended vaccinations. 31% of children under the age of 5 were suffering from malaria and 20% had diarrhea. As of 2019, the most common causes of deaths in Liberia are due to maternal and neonatal disorders. WPHCC stresses the importance of prevention and education, which is exactly what Florence and I set out to do in New Kakata City. Below is a picture of Florence urging the new mothers on the importance of their babies receiving their Hepatitis B vaccine and Vitamin K injections.
I had the privilege of educating the new mothers on the importance of feeding their babies breast milk and how nutritious it is. I also spoke about shaken baby syndrome which is brain damage that occurs from forcefully shaking a baby. In addition, I spoke about sudden infant death syndrome, how to keep a newborn warm, sanitation, normal skin conditions in a newborn etc. The mothers also asked us questions like “Can I allow another mother to breastfeed my baby?”. Overall, the day was a success. We had over 18 mothers in attendance and the following day, three mothers came to the clinic to vaccinate their newborn.
The older woman crouching down in the last picture has been New Kakata’s only village midwife since she was in her 20s. Her name is DjoloDjolo. Although she is not medically trained, she saw the need in her community and took on the role of a midwife. With over 30 years of experience, this woman has been a pillar in her community. Florence has the saying that “Big Belly Business is everyone’s business...your mother, your sister, your cousin, your husband, your uncle, your neighbor...everyone”. She stresses the importance of the community coming together to help the mother have a safe and healthy delivery. All in all, the beautiful thing about Liberia is although it’s lacking in resources, it is not lacking in a supportive community. DjoloDjolo, the village midwife is proof of that.