UNMISS celebrates women's day at Juba hospital

7 Mar 2012

UNMISS celebrates women's day at Juba hospital

7 March 2012 - A day before the world marked International Women's Day (IWD), UNMISS visited pregnant and newly delivered women at Juba Teaching Hospital.

Despite a rise in women seeking antenatal care in hospital, less than 20 per cent actually deliver there, according to Dr. Mergani Abdalla, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.

"Eighty per cent are delivering at home," Dr. Abdalla said. "We have to encourage pregnant mothers to come and deliver in our facilities."

The physician added that haemorrhage during pregnancy and birth was one of the leading causes of maternal mortality.

'Bleeding means a patient needs a blood transfusion," he said. "We do not have a blood bank. We have transfusion services. We depend on the relatives to donate blood. We need a blood bank and we need to have a culture of donating blood."

Dr. Abdalla added that unsafe abortions, malaria, infections, hepatitis, jaundice, and pre-eclampsia (a hypertensive disorder) were also leading causes of maternal mortality.

"We do not have specific statistics, but some months we lose two to four (mothers) and some months we do not lose any," he said, adding that girls under 15, women carrying multiple foetuses and women over 40 were the most vulnerable.

In his message to girls and women on International Women's Day, Dr Abdalla urged girls to avoid teenage pregnancies, women to use contraception to space their children and the pregnant to visit antenatal clinics for care during pregnancy.

This year's Republic of South Sudan theme for IWD is empowering rural women to end hunger and working together to end violence against women, UNMISS Gender Officer Ruth Kibiti said.

"(As life-givers) women have an important role to play in ending hunger and poverty, and women have an important role to play in peace building to end violence in the community. That is the most critical message we are sending," she said.

The UN theme for this year's celebrations, held annually on 8 March, is "Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty".

"Tomorrow should be a day when all women stop to reflect on their achievements, challenges, experiences and redefine their way forward in terms of dealing with challenges," Ms. Kibiti said.

The UNMISS team, which consisted of representatives from UNMISS gender, human rights and police sections, donated toiletries to the women.