A letter from Barbara Nagy in Malawi
Greetings again from Decatur, where I continue my studies in Public Health in anticipation of our return to Malawi next year. We are all well as a family, and feel blessed to have been loved, prayed for and supported by so many in our faith family. I have just received the 2012 Annual Report for Nkhoma Hospital and am thrilled to share some of its good news with you. In the last calendar year Nkhoma Hospital and health centers were the health service for over 250,000 people. At the hospital alone we cared for 14,000 inpatients and 40,000 outpatients; 1,674 general surgical procedures were done, such as emergency cesarean sections, cancer surgeries and prostatectomies, and 3,400 patients received cataract surgeries, restoring their sight. Major renovation of half of the pediatrics ward where the sickest patients are admitted included the addition of a small nursery for sick newborns, a triage area for emergency admissions, and isolation rooms.
The most wonderful news is that 96 percent of women in our area now deliver their babies in the hospital or health centers, instead of at home where supplies and skilled birth attendants are not available. This is a huge change from eight years ago, when over half of the women in our area delivered at home using traditional birth attendants, and many lost their lives as a consequence. What has made the difference? A Safe Motherhood program has been bringing families together to discuss delivery choices and helping couples develop a plan that gets the mother to a safe place for delivery. Access to care in health centers has improved so that it is easier for women to get to a safe birthing place, and the hospital staff has put a tremendous amount of effort into finding extraordinary methods, from planning a pregnancy to delivery, to help families have good outcomes. The results of the hospital work are that hundreds of women’s and newborns' lives have been saved and that instruction in excellent care of pregnant women has been spread to many areas by Nkhoma Nursing School graduates. The maternal death rate at Nkhoma hospital has fallen steadily over the past five years to one third of what it is in Malawi over all.
Improvement in numbers of children with malaria was another major victory. In 2012, 28,000 households were protected from malaria mosquitoes thanks to the PC(USA)’s continued support for our indoor residual spraying program, and bed nets were given out to every family. We believe that these two activities were responsible for a significant drop in children with malaria on our pediatrics ward this past year, from 1,600 in January 2012 to only 400 in January of 2013. This means that thousands of children were protected from getting malaria, saving their lives, and protecting them from the malaria-related brain injuries that contribute to school failure. Blood transfusions and needs for medicines were far less, and fewer premature and low birth weight babies were born. This is a wonderful gift to the children of our Nkhoma communities.
We cannot say thank you enough for all who have and continue to support us with prayers, work and financial gifts. Your gifts are making a tremendous difference to our sisters and brothers in Malawi. If you want to learn more about the work of Presbyterian missions throughout the world, we hope you will come to the Big Tent conference in August, where many of the most dynamic stories of our church’s work throughout the world will be told.
Blessings and peace,
Barbara Nagy for all of the Nkhoma Community