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[read] Beating the odds: Resilience, hope and safe births at a UNFPA mobile clinic in the Drc

Updated: Jan 9

Photo by Eibner Saliba on Unspalsh

NORTH KIVU PROVINCE, Democratic Republic of the Congo – Although heavily pregnant and in pain, Kaindo Bembeleza waited patiently along with dozens of other women on a row of benches under a tarpaulin tent.

The women were hoping to be seen by a team of midwives at a mobile clinic run by UNFPA, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, set up in the Bulengo camp for people displaced by fierce fighting and relentless insecurity in North Kivu province.

For Ms. Bembeleza, the visit would turn out to be much more eventful than she thought. “At the antenatal consultation, she had intense back pains and felt unwell,” said Dorcas Rhubaki, one of the clinic’s midwives.

She was swiftly transferred to the examination room, where another midwife, Solange Munguiko Gasana, tried to identify the problem.

“When she arrived, we wanted to examine the cervix,” said Ms. Gasana. “But suddenly her water broke and I noticed the baby's head... 15 minutes later, she gave birth.”

Believing she had another month to go, the young mother-to-be was surprised to learn she was in fact full term at nine months pregnant. Luckily for mother and baby, the delivery went smoothly and the mobile health team ensured they were safe to be released.

One of the only options for thousands of women and girls to access essential sexual and reproductive health care, the clinic is one of three set up by UNFPA in displacement sites in North Kivu province. The facilities support pregnant women and newborns as well as providing medical treatment for survivors of gender-based violence and referrals to legal and psychological services as needed.

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