Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 10, 2004
MaterCare helps Third World mothers
Special to the WCR
What is MaterCare? Most of us have never heard of it but we can guess that it has something to do with mothers and caring.
MaterCare International is an organization working for a specific type of care for mothers in Africa. It was founded by Canada's Dr. Robert Walley from Memorial University in St. John's, Nfld.
Its purpose is to help women who have developed fistulas from unrelieved obstructed labour in childbirth. A fistula is a hole that develops between the birth passage and an internal organ. Tissue dies when the blood supply is cut off by the pressure of the child's head on the mother's pelvis over a period of days.
As a result, leakage of fluids occurs constantly, thus producing intolerable odours creating many problems. Other medical conditions such as foot drop, creating decreased mobility, are also common.
These women are shunned by their husbands and their villages, leaving them to fend for themselves. In addition, folklore wrongly attributes these problems to infidelity or sexually transmitted diseases, thus placing a burden of guilt on them.
However, very young women are at a greater risk because their small bodies result in more difficult births.
The problem could be prevented if proper care were available in difficult births. The hole can be repaired with a simple surgical procedure, costing as little as $425. Neither of these is easily available in isolated areas of the countries involved.
This is a widespread problem especially in Africa but also in some Asian countries.
A procedure to repair fistulas was developed in the mid-1800s. However, because this problem is practically unheard of in western countries, doctors are not trained to perform this surgery.
MaterCare is building a 40-bed birth trauma centre in Ghana to provide training for doctors and nurses in the surgery and care of these women, in addition to treatment and rehabilitation for women with fistulas.
It will cost $2 million to build and operate the centre for five years. Funding has come from various countries and organizations, including the Catholic Women's League of Canada.
The St. Agnes CWL and the Tri-Parish (Sts. Agnes, Anthony and Thomas More) peace and justice committee is sponsoring an evening with Dr. Walley himself at 7 p.m. May 19 at St. Agnes Parish Hall.
Walley will also speak Saturday, May 15 in Drayton Valley at 7:30 p.m.at St. Anthony's, May 16 in Hinton at 5:30 p.m. in Our Lady of the Foothills Parish Hall and May 17 in Red Deer at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church.