“I was wrong to deliver my baby with the assistance of a traditional midwife’s. I almost died. Luckily, the doctor helped me just in time. Otherwise, I don’t know what have happened,” says farmer and blue-collar worker Suon Cheang.
Suon Cheang lives in a remote village in the Prek Romdeng commune in Kampong Cham province. She almost died in 2009 after a traditional midwife helped her deliver her last child. She has four children, all of them born under the supervision of traditional midwives.
Suon Cheang’s life was very difficult. She had no rice or money. If she went to the hospital, she would have had to spend money, so she decided to ask for help from traditional midwives. But then there were complications and she was terrified. The bleeding would not stop.
“It was 12 p.m. After the delivery, the midwife went home because she was busy. My mother-in-law was tending the fire and she saw that I
was bleeding. I thought it was all right, but it was abnormal. I was thirsty but could not get up. Then I felt dizzy. My relatives came to help and called for others’ assistance. The midwife arrived and called the doctor. Then they took me to the health center immediately,” she says.
Suon Cheang was rescued by a doctor from the Romdeng commune on the way to the health center.
“I met her on the way to the health center. She was bleeding so much. The victim was so exhausted and really pale. I cleaned her up for treatment,” says Dy Tharean, director of the Romdeng commune health center.
People in remote areas lack knowledge and live in poor conditions. They often cannot afford to go to health center for safe childbirth. Road conditions are also bad. During the day they have to pay a lot of money for a taxi or horse cart. At night, it gets very difficult to find any transportation.
According to statistics from the National Maternal and Child Care Center of the Health Ministry, 85 percent of pregnant mothers in 2010 go for health checks before delivery, and deliver their babies at the health centers. However, maternity and child mortality rates have still been of concern despite the decrease in death rates. In 2011, the maternal mortality rate accounted for 143 out of 100000, far less than 206 in 100000 in 2010. The maternity and child mortality rate in the countryside or remote areas are still cause for concern as mothers still use traditional midwives and do not have enough access to information on reproductive health.
The shortage of health centers presents a challenge for people living in remote areas. RHAC has cooperated with the Health Department and Ministry to strengthen the capacity of professional midwives during childbirth.
RHAC team officer Soy Pheng says, “We aim to train the professional midwives at the health center so that they are capable enough to provide services and assistance before delivery, during delivery, and after delivery. We also want to raise awareness among the community because they prefer to deliver at home. They do not have enough money and information about safe delivery. Now we can help them to deliver their babies at the health center for free. They just come to deliver at the health center and we’ll pay for them.”
Some women in the remote areas seem to have become more aware of the servies at the health center as well as the advantages of health checks before delivery.
Mok Sithan, seven months pregnant, says “I come to have my health checked every month to make sure that my baby is in good health. The doctors advise me on how to take care of my baby. So I come to the hospital regularly. I suggest that all mothers use professional midwives instead of traditional midwives for the sake of your health, and that of your baby. ”