Baby number 100 born at Red Cross field hospital

Publié: 5 décembre 2013 13:03 CET

By Gwen Eamer, Canadian Red Cross

The delivery ward is an exciting place in any hospital, but in the Red Cross emergency response unit field hospital in Ormoc, Philippines, delivering 100 babies in the first 10 days since opening has kept the team of midwives on their toes.

The 100th delivery – a baby girl called Gwendolen – was born at noon December 1. Her mother Joanne, 25, gave birth in the maternity tent of the field hospital while father Benito waited outside. They named their daughter after one of the hospital’s personnel. Since opening, the facility has carried out 21 life-saving caesarian sections, and delivered three sets of twins.

Anette Huitfeldt and Hanna Oommen, midwives from the Norwegian Red Cross, are with one of the first medical teams to have arrived in the Philippines after many regions were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. After helping to build the field hospital in only 48 hours, Anette and Hanna got straight to work.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 12,000 babies are expected to be born each month in the areas of the Philippines that were hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan. Members of the health emergency response unit knew they would be seeing lots of infants, but they were still surprised to set up as a hospital that has been devoted almost entirely to mothers and children.

Volunteers from the Philippine Red Cross have been providing a much-needed boost to care at the field hospital. Ten volunteer nurses support clinical work in the pediatric and postpartum wards, while psychosocial support volunteers – recently trained by the emergency response unit – help pediatric patients and their accompanying siblings to process their experiences of Typhoon Haiyan through drawing, role playing, and other child-focussed activities.

For the Red Cross team of midwives and postpartum nurses, all credit goes to Ormoc’s new mothers, and to the staff and volunteers at the Ormoc District Hospital, which the emergency response unit is supporting. “I’m continually surprised by the strength of the mothers,” said midwife Hanna. “There are sometimes 10 mothers in the delivery tent – which is the size of one delivery room in Norway – labouring with no pain relief, and always smiling. They are incredible.”

Many of Ormoc’s medical staff had their homes severely damaged or destroyed by the typhoon, but they come to work to help others every day, often working very long hours. “We are so pleased to be here to work together with them,” added Hanna. “Supporting them is a privilege.”

The Philippine Red Cross has developed a strong culture of volunteerism across the country. From city to town to village, Red Cross volunteers are active not just when things go wrong, but in first aid training, disaster preparedness and health promotion. When a disaster like Typhoon Haiyan strikes, it is these teams on the frontline of the Red Cross response.

Learn more about what Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers do to improve access to health, promote community empowerment and ultimately contribute towards achieving universal health coverage.