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One Born Every Minute midwives back from WaterAid Tanzania trip

28 Jan 2016

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Two midwives featured in hit Channel 4 series “One Born Every Minute” have just come back from a life-changing trip to deliver babies in a Tanzanian maternity unit where access to clean water has been a daily struggle.

Delia Jepson and Cheryl Stanley swapped the modern facilities of Liverpool Women’s Hospital for the much more basic conditions of Kiomboi Hospital in rural central Tanzania to support WaterAid’s biggest ever appeal: Deliver Life.

And their memory will live on for a lifetime in remote Kiomboi as one little girl was named Cheryl after the Liverpudlian midwife who delivered her! Both the midwives also accompanied newborn baby boy Ezekeli and his proud mum Elizabeth Kitundu home to their village where the family gets their water from digging a hole in the river bed.

WaterAid is working at the hospital to improve access to clean water and safe sanitation so that the taps will work no matter what time of day or night and also giving hygiene training so that midwives can give every newborn baby and their mums the best possible start in their life together – a clean start.

During the Deliver Life appeal, which runs until 10 February, every £1 given by the UK public will be doubled by the UK Government, so WaterAid can reach twice as many mums around the world. As well as putting water into Kiomboi hospital, WaterAid is working in communities to provide a clean water supply so that mums can protect their vulnerable newborns from the danger posed by unhygienic environments.

At Kiomboi Hospital the two Liverpool midwives worked shifts alongside their Tanzanian peers Ester Manga, Julianna Msoffe and Daniel Paulo, gaining hands on experience into how challenging it can be for midwives to provide a safe environment for mothers and babies when there is no running water.

Following her return to the UK, Delia said: “I feel quite humble to have met such dedicated midwives who have had to work in such a challenging environments.

“The absolute highlight of the trip for me was taking Elizabeth and her baby Ezekeli back to their village. A midwife’s bond with a mother when she delivers her baby is indescribable anyway so going back with her, meeting her family and seeing where they collect their water was amazing.”

Cheryl said: “It was an amazing experience and a real privilege. I thought it would be a sad trip but it was amazing seeing the difference that having clean water will make to the midwives working in such hard conditions every day. I really saw how essential water is to midwives doing their job safely and how that if you can’t keep things clean then you are really doing more harm than good to mothers and their babies.”

Cheryl and Delia met with Mary Samson Gunda, a young mother whose baby Lucy, born in Kiomboi Hospital was recovering from sepsis, a severe infection that is caused by unhygienic environment. The hospital sees around one case a week of sepsis in newborn babies or their mothers many of which prove fatal. Every minute around the world a newborn baby dies from infection caused by a lack of safe water and an unclean environment.

Sadly the situation faced by midwives in Kiomboi Hospital is not unique – in Tanzania around one in three health care facilities do not have any access to safe water. Another third, it is estimated, do not have water 24 hours a day. In Sub-Saharan Africa 42 per cent of healthcare facilities do not have clean water.

Barbara Frost, WaterAid Chief Executive, said: “The arrival of safe water and sanitation at Kiomboi Hospital, backed up with hygiene training to staff, will transform conditions there and save so many mothers and babies’ lives. Without clean water and safe toilets, a hospital just cannot provide a safe environment and so many lives are needlessly lost to infection. By supporting our Deliver Life appeal, Delia and Cheryl have played a part in protecting mothers and babies in Kiomboi hospital and in the many communities where WaterAid works for years to come.”

Footage of the trip is available to download here (password OBEM) and the transcript is attached. A short edited film for us on websites is available here, and photos are available here.

For more information, please go to http://deliverlife.wateraid.org/

Give mums and babies in the world’s poorest communities the best start in life - simply through clean water and hygiene. Text DELIVER to 70123 to donate £3 to WaterAid. Every £1 donated to WaterAid’s Deliver Life appeal between 10 November and 10 February will be doubled by the UK Government – meaning we can help twice as many mothers and babies stay safe and well.

ENDS

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Laura Crowley, Media Officer on LauraCrowley@wateraid.org or 020 7793 4965, or Fiona Callister, media relations lead, on FionaCallister@wateraid.org or 0207 793 5022/07825 322748. Or call our after-hours press line on 07887 521 552 or email pressoffice@wateraid.org.

Notes to editors

WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 37 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 23 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 21 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • Around 315,000 children die each year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s nearly 900 children each day, or one child every two minutes.
  • Over 650 million people (around one in ten) are without safe water.
  • Over 2.3 billion people (around one in three) live without improved sanitation.
  • For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity.
  • Just £15 can help provide one person with access to safe water.