Trying to tell the stories of the latest human catastrophes in the Democratic Republic of Congo feels like woolgathering. Not the popular definition of a "flight of fancy," or Patti Smith's phantom woolgatherers clothed in "strange archaic cap and dress," in her magnificent story/poem Woolgathering.
But ensuring a safe delivery is not only a question about seeking care; it is also a question of delivering the right quality of care. All over sub-Saharan Africa, health workers with low levels of education are often appointed alone to health posts in hard-to-reach areas. The consequences for the women giving birth and for their newborns are often fatal.
Newborn health is inextricably connected to maternal health. Similarly to maternal mortality, preventable diseases are the major causes of under-five deaths. Inadequate nutrition, limited access to clean water and poor healthcare infrastructures lead to the spread of preventable infectious diseases.
I am a big believer in continuing to work on stories for the long haul. That is what Patruno has done since 2011. He has been documenting the gritty truth about maternal health in sub-Saharan Africa for the past three years and shows no sign of letting up. Here are his thoughts about covering maternal health in Africa.
I remember exactly where I was sitting. It was a bright, sunny day and spring was in the air, but not for Jennifer and me. We were having no luck creating a flower, and it was beginning to take a toll on our relationship. I remember thinking that maybe, just maybe, our lack of success was the universe's way of telling me that I wasn't cut out to be a father.