Delivering medical equipment and supplies saves newborns and improves maternal health in Benin

 {Photo credit: Vainqueur Degbeawo.}A container being unloaded in the department of Ouémé, Benin.Photo credit: Vainqueur Degbeawo.

In addition to knowledgeable staff, health centers need effective medical equipment to provide quality maternal and child healthcare. In Benin, equipment and supplies can vary from one hospital to another, resulting in preventable deaths of new mothers and their children.

At Adjohoun Zone Hospital, Ouémé, a regional facility that serves more than 260,000 people, the lack of surgical equipment means that many pregnant mothers cannot access caesarean sections to avoid life-threatening birth complications. Meanwhile, insufficient infant warmers means babies might not survive their first hours.

“When we talk about a lack of equipment, we always think about surgery tables and syringes but this goes beyond these products. For example, many hospitals lack infant warmers in delivery rooms, which leads to the death of newborn babies in the centers that do not have this mechanism to retain heat,” says Dr. Mathurin Assouan Alohou, who coordinates the USAID-funded Integrated Health Services Activity in Ouémé.

In response, the Activity worked with Project C.U.R.E., a U.S. non-profit organization, to assess equipment needs at hospitals and health centers. After consulting the Ministry of Health and hospital directors, the Activity and Project C.U.R.E. delivered medical supplies worth $2,082,268 to four hospitals and eight health centers in the departments of Atacora, Alibori, Plateau, and Ouémé in November 2019. 

The materials ranged from hospital furniture such as chairs, beds, examination tables, and infant warmers to critical supplies for labs, obstetric and gynecological surgery, and patient care, such as gloves, masks, crutches, and sterilization equipment.

Adjohoun Zone Hospital immediately put these supplies into action in its emergency room, surgical recovery room for new mothers, and newborn health unit. The hospital now has new infant warmers for reviving infants, an extra DynaMap machine for monitoring vital signs, and surgical products for emergencies.

The new equipment is already yielding results. Between January and March 2020, the hospital recorded zero newborn deaths and revived 149 babies - a ten-fold increase compared to the same period last year, despite the number of births only rising by 12.9 percent. By April, the hospital had used the equipment to help 234 women give birth by caesarean section.

Seeing the difference the donations made, hospital staff are further motivated to continue their life- saving work. Didier Sagbo, the hospital’s director, remarked, “We can summarize this situation by saying that it was a great relief for everyone.”

Doug Jackson, President and CEO of Project C.U.R.E., echoed these sentiments. “Project C.U.R.E. is honored to have had the opportunity to supply critical medical donations to enable the frontline healthcare workers to provide superior quality of care to their patients and community,” he added.