A JOURNEY to the top of the world is planned by a pair of midwifery students, who hope to make a difference in a country where a mother dies in childbirth every four hours.
Elgin’s Gayle Anderson and Cara Birnie, of Urquhart, are preparing to embark on a three-week elective placement to Nepal.
Based at Baglung Hospital, in the West of the South Asian state, they will observe practices used and share knowledge of techniques and medical care in the UK.
The country suffers from a lack of basic facilities, said Gayle (33), and access to hospitals could involve trekking for hours, if not days.
Many women needlessly bleed to death, while 75 babies die every day – most of them less than a day old.
“At the moment, they are trying to encourage people to go to the hospitals to give birth. They are paying them to go, but many still won’t,” Gayle said.
“Shockingly, women in Nepal are 30 times more likely to die during childbirth than their peers in the United Kingdom. This is a dreadful statistic and we hope to make a small difference by sharing our knowledge and skills taught.”
As it stands, about 90% of pregnant women have their children at home and the poorest families don’t have access to a birth attendant to help them through delivery.
As part of the elective, the duo – third year students at the Highland Campus of Stirling University – will trek to outlying communities in the foothills of the Himalayas to visit projects already underway thanks to the charity One Heart Worldwide.
Cara (21) said both are looking forward to the experience in November, despite an expectation that it will be harrowing at times.
“Infant mortality is so high over there compared to here so we know it is going to be difficult. It is going back to basics,” she said.
The issue is exacerbated by gender inequalities, with the level of women’s health and education particularly low.
“Women are obliged to keep having children until they have a boy. They may survive this birth but may not survive the next.”
As well as passing on their learning, the duo are fundraising – www.gofundme.com/oua28 – to donate to the hospital in Baglung and surrounding communities.
They thanked main sponsors the Rotary Club of Elgin and Viable Ventures as well as the numerous other local organisations, businesses and individuals that have offered support.