Pakistan hospital an eye opener for Dwyer

EYE-OPENER: Jess Dwyer, 28, of New Plymouth, volunteered for six months in a women’s hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan.
CHARLOTTE CURD

EYE-OPENER: Jess Dwyer, 28, of New Plymouth, volunteered for six months in a women’s hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Jess Dwyer has been busy saving babies from death's door in Pakistan.

She has just returned from volunteering in Peshawar where she headed the nursing team at a neo-natal unit, which was newly built by non-profit organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

The organisation opened its own women's hospital in 2011, providing free emergency obstetric care to refugees and internally displaced people, and the newborn unit was added in 2013.

The New Plymouth woman said the hospital was incredibly basic but it was about providing the women and their babies a safe, clean, well-equipped facility.

"Your chance of dying while giving birth is 170 out of 100,000 [in Pakistan]. In New Zealand, it's eight," the pediatrics nurse said.

Something had to be done immediately so MSF stepped in to lend a helping hand.

Many of the women in the villages and outskirts relied on a traditional birth attendant who had no formal training to deliver their babies.

Drugs were also easily available and women were often "loaded with drugs, dose after dose", Dwyer said.

In one case, a baby was born oxygen deprived, premature and traumatised after its mother was given oxytocin for three days in a row without any monitoring.

"We would probably see five or six of these a week," she said.

Dwyer visited various hospitals when she was in Pakistan and the biggest one, The Lady Reading Hospital, saw 30,000 patients a day.

It also had a bomb blast room, with 200 beds, in preparation for any emergencies.

Seeing the room drove home the constant dangers faced by the country's health care professionals, Dwyer said.

"Life is so different as a nurse over there."

 - Taranaki Daily News

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