News

The tenth child

6 May 2019
Salma miscarried nine babies, eight babies in Myanmar and one in Bangladesh, before meeting a health worker and midwife, and delivering a baby safely. Photo: © UNFPA Bangladesh /Fahima Tajrin

Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh - Her door stands open, but on this day Salma is not at home in her small tarpaulin shack, in the middle of the largest refugee camp on Earth.

In the Rohingya refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, in southern Bangladesh, it is too hot to stay inside with a newborn baby during the day, so Salma has found some shade nearby where she sits with her neighbors.

 

Salma’s adopted daughter stands nearby, leaning against a wall, before running to find her foster mother. When Salma comes she is smiling, carrying her newborn baby girl. Two neighbors are with her, distant relatives who also live in the camp. All are watching the newborn closely, showing their love for what they consider a very special child.

 

Salma greets the visiting midwife and community health worker with respect. It was the community health worker who first found Salma, listening to her story, then taking her to see a midwife. Salma was a few months pregnant at the time, and had nine miscarriages behind her.

 

Midwives save hundreds of lives of women from both refugee and host communities in Cox’s Bazar.  When the community health worker said she should see a midwife, Salma was happy to go, and together they visited a UNFPA supported health facility.

 

At the health facility the midwife supervisor clearly remembers Salma. “I remember when she came, with an adopted girl who followed her everywhere. We sent her to the town for tests, and that was how we discovered she had diabetes.”

 

Since that day, every two weeks, Salma went for a check-up. And when the first labour pains came, she walked to the UNFPA supported facility by herself. Her tenth pregnancy ended with a normal delivery, of a baby girl.The baby girl is what the Rohingya call a ‘special child’. Salma is clear about who is to thank, it is the midwives who helped her, or the angels as she calls them.

 

May 5 is the International Day of the Midwife, celebrating the vital role midwives and skilled birth attendants play the world over in ending preventable maternal and newborn mortality.