The next best thing to travel and experiencing something new, is to have travelers come to you. I have been fortunate to be able to host a Maasai Cultural Dance troupe in my home this week as they perform in my town. Their mission is to uplift the villagers in Kenya, Africa by selling their beads and art and earning money that they take back home. That money is used for education and a better life for their families. Seleina and Sironka, the group leaders, are my guests and they both speak English. The difference between their lives in a small village in Maasai country and my life in the medically sophisticated U.S. struck me tonight as I questioned Seleina about health care in Kenya.
I attended a quality meeting this morning where we discussed a sentinal event. A sentinal event is something so rare, so unusual, that teams of professionals are brought together to evaluate it, dissect the components and institute processes to prevent it from ever happening again. This sentinal event was the death of a pregnant woman. In the U.S. that is such a rare event that it shocks the entire hospital. In Kenya, childbirth is a dangerous undertaking for a woman.
The Maasai village that Seleina comes from doesn't have a hospital close by. If they cannot make it to a distant clinic, childbirth takes place at home and the mortality rate is high. Their huts are made from mud and dung and have dirt floors. Pregnant women are told to eat very little so they will have small (easier to deliver) babies. Of course this contributes to anemia and poor health in both mother and baby.
I thought about our moms- to -be with prenatal vitamins and ultrasounds and realized how lucky modern Western women are to have the benefits of excellent health care and technology. We forget that at the turn of last century, the most common cause of death for women was childbirth. Sadly, that is still the case in many developing countries today.
The Maasai culture is wonderful and the people are beautiful with the same dreams, ambitions and love of their children as we have. I can't wait to learn more about health in their Country when we talk over dinner tomorrow evening.