Making safe maternal healthcare a possibility in The Gambia

The Gambia, a country of about 2.5 million people, is the focus of the Safe Labor and Delivery Training Program being provided by Baylor Global Health. An agriculturally focused country located on the coast of West Africa, The Gambia has one of the highest rates of maternal deaths in the world.

The coast near the Gambian capital city, Banjul.
The coast near the Gambian capital city, Banjul. – CREDIT: Jim Anderson

In 2017, the maternal maternity ratio in The Gambia was 597 per 100,000 births; this is a far cry from the WHO’s Sustainable Development Goal of reducing global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 by 2030. In addition, the provision of quality healthcare services in The Gambia has been marred by several factors, including a high population growth rate, low income, high national debt, and a chronic shortage of well-trained healthcare staff.

The Safe Labor & Delivery Training program will promote infrastructural development and capacity building to equip a Gambian hospital with the necessary resources for improving patient care. This program is made possible through Baylor Global Health’s partnership with several contributors, in addition to our main financial donor, the Trini & O. C. Mendenhall Foundation. Our local partner, Horizons Trust, Gambia, is also providing significant on-the-ground support by coordinating the planning and preparation with the local hospital staff and the Gambian health ministry.

Kanifing General Hospital

The Gambia Safe Labor & Delivery Training program will focus on the maternity ward of Kanifing General Hospital (KGH), a 500-bed hospital that provides secondary medical services to a population of more than 300,000 people. The maternity ward in KGH is a 27-bed unit that serves as a referral center for 13 smaller hospitals. It comprises seven labor and delivery rooms, and an operating room shared with several other departments.

The KGH maternity ward needs several medical equipment and supplies critical for patient care. In addition, a survey of some clinical personnel in KGH revealed the need for training and capacity development to enable the clinicians to provide high-quality care and reduce the risk of death and other life-threatening complications.

The role of Baylor Global Health

Experts have recommended that skilled medical support and high-quality medical equipment are essential for reducing maternal mortality rates in many developing countries, as many of these deaths are preventable. As a result, Baylor Global Health is stepping in to address the critical maternal health needs of KGH through a three-part process including:

  • Addressing infrastructural needs in KGH
  • Training and capacity building of healthcare providers in KGH
  • Developing a Smart App to provide long-term support and program sustainability

Baylor Global Health will provide Smart Pod units, which are fully expandable and customizable mobile pods that will serve as surgical obstetrics and post-anesthesia care units. These Smart Pods will be fully equipped to provide basic and advanced obstetric and anesthesia care.

Baylor Global Health will also provide didactic training for the healthcare workers in KGH. The curriculum for this training is being developed in conjunction with other experienced professors and clinicians from Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor University Nursing School. We hope to address the training gaps among the local healthcare workers and improve the standard of maternal care provided in the hospital.

Our team is working to ensure a successful implementation of this program in the year 2022. For more information on this and other programs being facilitated by Baylor Global Health, visit our website or contact us at global@bcm.edu.

– By Funke Giwa, Administrative Resident with Baylor Global Health

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