CARE BLOG

How much does it cost to save a life?

3/3/15

When a loved one passes away, you may rhetorically ask relatives and friends how much was this person’s life worth? “Millions, billions, or trillions?” Life is priceless; no amount of money can adequately express the value of a loved one’s life.But how much does it cost to prevent death and save a life? Preventive health is very cheap compared to the cost of doing nothing or the cost of treatment. This is true in both rich and resource-constrained countries.

The question is:  why should people continue to die when we can save them?

A story told to me by Mouna, a 29-year old, midwife revealed one of the numerous reasons why many people continue to die in developing countries even when life-savings services are available for free. Mouna, who had been working to provide contraceptive services for the last 19 months in one of the health centers in Djibouti City, gave her thoughts on this after a values clarification session on abortion during a training in November 2014. 
Saidi was a beautiful 22-year old girl who attended 12th grade in the same secondary school as Mouna’s sister and lived in the same street with them.

Saidi had a boyfriend. She learned that she was pregnant after visiting a health center and taking a pregnancy test. She was afraid. Two years ago, when her sister got pregnant, her parents were very upset, believing that the pregnancy would destroy the family. As a result, she talked to her boyfriend about terminating the pregnancy.

Saidi informed her big sister and they decided to look for a traditional healer but did not find one. So her sister and a friend decided to help Saidi to terminate the pregnancy by standing on her stomach and abdomen.

It was late at night when Saidi began bleeding as a result of the trauma to her stomach and abdomen. She thought that the pregnancy would be evacuated and she would be all right. But the bleeding was abundant and by the time she arrived at the hospital in the morning, it was too late for Saidi. She was declared dead on arrival due to a uterine rupture. Her death sent shock waves through her family and the neighborhood.

Mouna told me: “We have many adolescent girls who sometimes visit our health services either for family planning or for abortions. Now, after this exercise, I understand what my role should be as a midwife who provides reproductive health services to adolescents. If Saidi had had access to contraception, she would never have gotten pregnant and would never have sought an abortion. Young people need our advice and contraceptive services; they do not need our judgment, stigmatization or criticism. When providing family planning services to young people, it is very important to allow enough time for good counseling and to offer a range of contraceptive methods for them to choose. This is my commitment after this training“.

Avoiding unintended pregnancy is much cheaper than paying the price of an unsafe abortion!

Testimony provided by Mouna, Midwife, Republic of Djibouti
Written by Jimmy Nzau Mvuezolo, SRA, SAF PAC Initiative/SRMH Team/CARE USA.

Also please visit SAF PAC Initiative at: http://familyplanning.care2share.wikispaces.net/SAF-PAC



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