The magazine of the photo-essay
March 2017 back issue
Birth is a Dream Sub-Saharan Africa
by Paolo Patruno
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
Maternal mortality, maternal and newborn health is an untold matter. Women, mothers die every day in a silent war. A mother's death is a human tragedy, affecting families and communities. Her death endangers the lives of a surviving newborn and any other young children. That's why since 2011 I have been running my long term documentary project Birth is a Dream which aims to document and raise awareness of the Maternity crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. I’ve already shot across Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Every year in Sub-Saharan Africa, 200,000 mothers die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth; and for every woman who dies, many others suffer injury, infection or disability. In Sub-Saharan Africa adequate health services are often unavailable or inaccessible, leading many women to give birth in facilities without adequate equipment and services, as well as at home without skilled professionals.
Christine, 20 years old, facing her first child of a few months old. Mulungwishi, DRC.
Many expectant mothers choose to deliver at home helped by traditional birth attendants. Concerned about rough treatment in hospitals, they turn to family for comfort despite the risks. Kabale, Uganda.
A newborn doesn’t breathe after childbirth and a nurse lies him on a table under the heat of a bulb to start resuscitation with artificial respiration. Kabale, Uganda.
A nurse using a razor blade to remove sutures from the belly of a woman who has had a caesarean. Kabale, Uganda.
The labour ward is just a room where women deliver one next to the other, without even any screen, so they can’t have any privacy. Kabale, Uganda.
Woman in painful labour is almost ready to deliver, assisted by a male midwife. Jinka, Ethiopia.
Both mother and her newborn resting just few hours after delivery. Kabale, Uganda.
Naked woman delivering sorrounded by 8 male medical staff, shows a lack of respect for the woman’s dignity, as a female patient. Jinka, Ethiopia.
Premature newborn twins warmed under the heat of a bulb, because the incubator is not working. Dejen, Ethiopia.
Midwifery students attending practical training at the Nyadire School of Nursing. Nyadire, Zimbabwe.
Palmira died from pregnancy complications on the way to reach the nearest health centre; she is now buried near the family home. Madjimisse, Mozambique.
Bizunesh, has been a midwife for almost 30 years, a life dedicated to tampering the pains of labor. Jinka, Ethiopia.
Rose, 16 years old, is currently breastfeeding her first child of 5 months. The father of the baby never came to take his responsibilities, so Rose’s father is the only one taking care of her and the baby. Rose’s mother has already passed away. Bakumba, Cameroon.
Many girls in rural villages drop out of school early, having sexual relationships with young boys, and getting pregnant before the age of 18. The elders of the village say that this is a modern problem and did not happen it their day. Bakumba, Cameroon.
Christine, 17 years old, has already married and already lost her first child when she was 16. Now she is 7 months pregnant. Bakumba, Cameroon.
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