Friday, January 29, 2016

RBH, 5 years later

By Dr. Leeda Rashid

We visited the current Warmth to Afghanistan Site Hospitals for a quick program evaluation. I do have to warn that some of the images and video (to be uploaded at a later time) may be a little upsetting so please watch only if you feel comfortable. 

Entering Rabia Balkhi Women's Hospital was pretty anxiety providing; the hospital struggles with very poor infrastructure and capacity, but still continues to see upwards of 80 deliveries and c-sections almost every day (an unimaginable amount by any hospital standards). 

We met this little guy (pic above). In a bitter twist of fate, as soon as we arrived and began to listen to the story, the lights in the hospital went out. Another of many rolling blackouts. Recent terrorist  and attacks on the power lines connecting Kabul have caused increasing blackouts across Afghanistan. The baby was placed in an Embrace Warmer which will serve to keep him normothermic during these very critical early hours of his life. He was just born 18 hours ago: premature, to a mother, who is recovering from an emergent c-section. He weighs only 2100 grams. Without interventions like the Embrace warmer, the dedicated staff of this hospital and the support of our HEEDA friends, I shudder to think what would happen to him as he waits for an electricity pipeline to come back on. It's a pipeline dominated by much more complex issues than healthcare alone and it seems unfair that he has to wait for that. 

My hope is that all babies have access to early health intervention and that Afghanistan's health system has the resources they need to intervene.  We believe impacting technologies can do just that.  

Dr. Rashid is a physician, data scientist, and HEEDA co-founder.