Sister Marie, Democratic Republic of Congo
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Sister Marie and her hard working colleagues are helping mothers deliver more safely in one of Kinshasha\'s much needed - but overstretched - maternity clinics
More about this health hero
Sister Marie, a midwife in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, works hard every day to make sure that women deliver safely. In a city with a population of 10 million and up to 10 children per mother, the maternity clinic located in the crowded neighbourhood of Kingasani is desperately needed.
Marie has been a midwife for nine years, delivering numerous babies each day. Many of the babies are born premature as a result of stress and malnutrition. Marie, together with her colleagues, works her hardest to provide the best possible care to the mothers and babies. However, the circumstances are not easy: premature babies share incubators, two mothers share each bed.
Marie moved to Kinshasa from a distant village in the DRC's Bandu region. She is determined to work as a midwife, although the government does not provide for any salaries and the equipment is outdated. All funding comes from private and external sources.
Marie would improve the Congolese health sector in many ways. She thinks that the Congolese should change their attitudes and start demanding the government to take care of the population.
Women's health, in particular, should be improved by having well functioning public hospitals with paid health staff and a sufficient medicine supply. High user fees should also be abolished.
Currently infant mortality rates are very high because people fear the high user fees and often opt first for self-treatment. When they fail with alternative forms of treatment and become more ill, the medical treatment bill usually increases even more, says Sister Marie.
In the DRC nearly 80 out of 1000 children die each year before they reach their first birthday, which makes the DRC 15th in the world's infant mortality rate charts.