EfN Graduate, Sandrine Does Vital Voluntary Work in Laos!

Volunteer Work at the Bamboo School in Laos December 2014

Sandrine (26) and Monika (32) two Swiss midwives went on a trip and worked for one month for the Bamboo School  in Mong Nohi in a small hospital. Our main task was to train the nurses in midwifery and give them a hand in their daily work. During this time we had a translator.  We could live with Alune, who has a small bungalow just 2 minutes from the hospital away. He cooked for us and we enjoyed the Laotian food.

Four nurses work in this hospital. They are responsible for all medical problems for the surrounding villages and are the first point of contact. The hospital is open 8am – 11am and 2pm-4pm. In emergencies the nurses are available by telephone. Every 10 days, there is a market in front of the hospital. On this day people come from far away and use the possibility of medical care.

In Laos the maternal and child mortality rate is very high. In particular the extremely long and arduous paths and poor infrastructure seems to be a big problem. Most women give birth without professional help.

For obstetric and gynecology problems there is one delivery room and a consultation room in the hospital available.

For the delivery itself clean delivery sets are used as well as:

  • A Dopton and Pinar
  • Measuring tape
  • Gravidadisc
  • Oxitocine
  • Konakion
  • Hepatitis B vaccination (and other vaccinations)
  • Pregnancy test (urine)

In case of complications requiring an emergency delivery like a vaginal operative delivery, the women need to be transported by boat (at least 1h) to get to a hospital with a doctor on site.  In case of a cesarean section, it takes another 3 hours to get to the next hospital with an operating room. In the event of postnatal bleeding the waits are obviously very long, sometimes too long. You can’t count on it, that there are blood bottles available.

During our time there was 1 birth without complications. Usually they have 6 births per month.  However, the majority of children in this area are born at home.

In this time, we were able to check some pregnancies. This is very important to select the pathological pregnancies as early as possible to send them to the bigger hospital.

On December 21 we were able to teach 9 nurses in a hospital nearby. They are stationed in the village and often have to work without any infrastructure. Topics were:  hygiene when cutting the cord, postpartum hemorrhage, shoulder dystocia and handling of newborns. The nurses were very interested in everything and a intensive exchange of knowledge took place. Some Nurses seemed to have knowledge and others are very young and still need a lot of training, especially since they work by themselves.

We spent 3 other days in 3 different villages far away where women have little opportunity to give birth in the hospital. There we explained the CDK and handed it to the women. The women were very interested as well.

For us it was a wonderful experience and we were very impressed to see how they live their life in a simple infrastructure

The Laos people are very hospitable and welcoming and we had a memorable time.


Sandrine and Monika

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