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    Inhumanity to mother in labour

    Yesterday I arrived in to pick up one of my ECD practitioner students for a training session. She rushed out of a neighbour’s house where she had been checking on a very young woman in labour with her 2nd child. (I won’t specify where this was to protect the young woman’s identity. But it was in the East Rand – Roodepoort area.)

    They had called an ambulance when her waters broke about an hour and a half before. Her boyfriend was stationed at the entrance to the small suburb to guide the ambulance as the houses although they are RDP ones do not have street addresses only numbers.

    I offered to take her to the hospital but they had just telephoned the ambulance again saying they were always slow. I know the young woman a little and was ushered quickly into the house. It was one of the poorest I have been in for a while. A rusty kitchen unit, a chair and some stools where three women sat with the young woman and the woman on a very thin mattress on the floor. With an old, faded tablecloth (or curtain?) over her.

    So I said they should telephone us if things got serious and the ambulance didn’t arrive.  We went off to the training session. When we got back 2 hours later it was obvious that everyone was waiting for us. People were in little groups in the street and called when they saw us.

    The ambulance personnel had refused to come as she had not booked a bed at Leratong hospital ahead of time.

    Yes perhaps...but I happen to know that this young lady is not literate, a family member died of AIDS because the family believed she was bewitched and she had not gone for treatment. The family is only starting to use the public health services and with the clinic only in the area twice a week it is overfull and one waits all day for help.

    I knew it was essential that the young mother received Nevirapine to protect her baby. I also knew that she had had no anti-natal care and therefore could have unforeseen difficulties giving birth.

    So  a rubbish bag and a towel were placed on my back seat and we drove to Leratong. The contractions were coming quite frequently now and were obviously very uncomfortable.

    Once we got to Leratong everything happened very quickly. I had delivered her to the door and then gone to park and by the time I got there she was already in the labour ward.

    I noticed 3 ambulances at the door of the hospital. With paramedics chatting. When I left I saw that the ambulances were being garaged.

    I have a very hearty respect for paramedics. They helped my family after a huge articulated truck had mown into us and they were compassion and professionalism personified.

    But this sort of thing is disgusting...How can such petty, thoughtless, unkindness happen?

    Personally – this is what I want my taxes spent on – not ludicrously expensive housing for politicians who are not serving the weakest links in our countries chain. We should always remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

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