One free hospital serving more than a million people that covers an area the size of Connecticut: that’s the reality of life in Mandera, a remote northeastern region of Kenya near the borders of Somalia and Ethiopia. Saddled with the unwanted title of the most dangerous place in the world to give birth, Mandera has watched as local doctors and international aid programs have left the county due to regular terror attacks by an al Qaeda-linked insurgent group. The first lady of Kenya recently stepped in to provide medical supplies and stocked mobile maternity clinics to this area and others in need, and this initiative will help reach hundreds of thousands of women. However, the effort will do little stop some of the other factors contributing to Mandera’s high maternal mortality rate. Child brides are prevalent in this society, with the married children being too young physically to give birth safely. Another issue is female genital mutilation or female circumcision, which complicates deliveries due to scarring and vaginal wall obstructions. Some women also refuse medically necessary C-sections as they believe it would affect their future fertility, potentially diminishing their value in a society where the number of children they have determines their worth. The high maternal mortality rate in Mandera County (38 maternal deaths for every 1,000 births) means that two to three women die in childbirth or due to complications soon thereafter every day. It is 135 times more dangerous to be pregnant in this region than in the United States. The United Nations goal for 2030 is set at 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Mandera County will need a tremendous amount of assistance as well as innovation in order to bring this suffering area up to international standards.

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via CNN

Lead image via CNN screenshot