The First Ultrasound in Kibera August 3, 2015 by Carolina For Kibera
By: Nick Johnson, CFK Communications Coordinator
Many of us are familiar with the image: a pregnant woman lying down, her belly exposed, a doctor moving a wand across her skin. They both watch a monitor that shows a vague, black-and-white outline of a little upside-down baby inside. Sometimes it’s the first glimpse of the child, sometimes a second or third.
We may be familiar with what an ultrasound looks like. In Kibera, many women are not, and many are not aware how vital they are to maternal health. Many believe that only women with ample resources can get ultrasounds, or that they aren’t absolutely necessary. In reality, it’s incredibly important for pregnant women to have proper ante-natal care and doctor’s visits, which should include ultrasounds.
In Kibera, this is especially true. Maternal death is higher in Kibera than many parts of Nairobi and Kenya more broadly. Without access to proper ante-natal care at the early stages of pregnancy, pregnant Kiberan women are at higher risk for miscarriage, losing babies during delivery, or even losing their own lives because of complications.
In response to this need, Carolina for Kibera and the Tabitha Medical Clinic are pleased to unveil a new tool in our mission to provide improved healthcare for women of childbearing age. The Tabitha Medical Clinic now houses the first ever ultrasound machine in Kibera!
Having an ultrasound machine within Kibera will address many problems associated with access to quality care for Kiberan women. “Because it’s the first,” comments Mark Muasa, Head of CFK’s Health Department, “it’s going to have a very large impact for women’s health in Kibera.” The machine will help detect abnormal infections or growths that could threaten the life of the mother or the baby. Knowing things about the baby’s sex will also help the family prepare materially and financially, but also psychologically.
In the past, the Tabitha Medical Clinic staff referred women to outside hospitals and clinics for ultrasounds. Due to a combination of several factors—including time, distance, and overall level of trust—women would neglect to attend appointments that were costlier and farther away. “I think it’s an issue of equity,” explains Mark. “We want to give people the same experience they’ll get in any other private facility. We are trying to close the gaps so women can have access to quality healthcare.” With the ultrasound machine right in residents’ backyards at an organization they trust, more women will feel safe and able to attend appointments and receive quality care.
In the short time since the Tabitha Medical Clinic staff unveiled the machine, at least 10 women a day have lined up for a visit. That’s 10 women a day who are safer and healthier as they prepare to have children, who will grow up safer and healthier as well. We are very excited to provide this service for Kiberan women!