The Trials of Giving Birth
International Herald Tribune, September 28, 2006
Letter to the Editor
Regarding "Prudence's struggle ends" by Nicholas Kristof (Views, Sept. 25): Twenty years ago in Douala, Cameroon, I witnessed the same kind of death that Kristof saw in Yokadouma—women and girls with obstructed labor and botched abortions left to die, the one doctor totally overwhelmed and without basic supplies.
Things are probably somewhat better in Douala today, especially for those with money, but not in Yokadouma or countless other places like it throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and impoverished parts of Latin America.
Kristof is right that the United States should do much more and could start immediately by restoring funding to the United Nations Population Fund.
Lasting change, however, requires that donors and recipient countries dramatically change their strategies, which means sustained investment in accessible primary care, strong systems to deliver supplies, trained and well-treated health professionals other than doctors, especially midwives, and a functioning referral system for higher levels of care.
President, International Women's Health Coalition
New York, NY
Originally published in the International Herald Tribune, September 28, 2006. Reprinted with permission.