Zigama Mama

Zigama Mama logo, designed by Carlan
by Rachel

I've always been interested in the idea of public health.  People have likened the idea of medicine in the developing world (or elsewhere) to pulling drowning people of of a raging river.  Public health is going upstream to figure out why so many people are falling into the river in the first place.  Of course, if all your time is spent saving the drowning, it's pretty hard to find the time to pull yourself away to take a walk upstream.  Important and necessary, but challenging to prioritize none the less.

After six years here, Eric and I decided to take that walk.  Ever since the first months here at Kibuye, I have been noticing a huge amount of uterine rupture (UR) cases.  They are very rare in the US, but we have about 20 cases per year here (Side note for the medical folks: I looked at cases of UR from 2015-2017 and found 55, which is over 1% of our deliveries. !!??  Only about 50% of there are on uteri with previous scar.  So we have a huge amount of UR on unscarred uteri, which is pretty rare in the medical literature.  Harder to prevent for sure...).  A big risk factor for UR is labor after a previous Cesarean section.  Everyone in the health community "knows" this, but given broken systems and difficulty in education, many women who are at risk for UR continue to labor at home, in their villages, way after their due dates, instead of receiving a scheduled C-section or coming in to the hospital to deliver under surveillance.  Some show up with three previous C-sections, in labor, and don't even know their due date.  If only we could find a way to get these ladies to come in sooner, to decide if a C-section is the best decision, and to choose a date for that C-section, maybe we could prevent some of these cases of UR.  At the very least, we can decrease complication rates of infection, hemorrhage, fetal distress, etc, which are all higher in women with emergent vs scheduled C-sections.

Enter, Zigama Mama.  This is technically Kirundi for "protect the mother."  Our Burundian friends say that's not exactly the way they would say it...but we decided to use the phrase anyway given its catchy nature! :)  Our hospital is the referral site for 17 health centers in our district.  Any woman needing a C/S or increased surveillance would get sent from them to us, which also explains why our C/S rate is about 30% of our deliveries each year (instead of the national average of 6%).  The idea of Zigama Mama was to look at all of our C/S data from the health centers for one year, then do a training session for the nurses at the health centers.  The intervention is simple:  every woman with a previous C/S, even one, gets identified by the nurses, written into a register, and then she gets a "coupon" for a free ultrasound at Kibuye.  While ultrasounds are recommended in pregnancy, they are cash pay ($5) and most women can't afford them.  So, the free ultrasound is the incentive to come to Kibuye, where I can confirm their due date and decide if a C/S is indicated or not.  If yes, I schedule it.  If no, I encourage the women to come to the hospital (not the health center) for monitoring as soon as labor starts.  That's it.  We'll look over the next year to see if our rates of emergent C/S and UR decrease.
Training on Postpartum Hemorrhage, using resources from Laerdal Global Health
We had the initial training session last week.  Honestly, I wasn't sure how it was going to go.  Eric made up a schedule that involved a start time of 8:30.  At 8:30 on Thursday morning, only one person (out of the possible 35) was there.  However, people trickled in over the next hour and in the end, 16/17 health centers were represented!  We presented the rationale for the program, the nuts and bolts, and then had several hours to do some training for the nurses on post-partum hemorrhage and neonatal resuscitation, as well as share a meal together in the canteen.  It was great to see our Burundian doctors coming in to help out with the hands-on training programs.
We divided up into groups to practice techniques on a uterine model for treating PPH
Dr Ladislas, one of the Burundian docs on my service, also did a great job leading one of the groups
On Monday morning, I actually already had four ladies show up with their Zigama Mama coupons!  I'm excited to see how this intervention can have a positive impact on the health of women in our district.  There remain so many barriers to access to care, but hopefully, little by little, we can chip away at them.
The Zigama Mama ultrasound coupon


DrsMyhre said...

Hooray for a dream being realized, for creative thinking, for sacrificial perseverance. And for saving lives!!! Also the rhyme of the name is just awesome.

suzie said...

Kudos to you for taking the precious time to go look for the reasons. Every baby step will bring your dream closer to fruition ..... and every baby step is huge progress in Africa! You go girl!

MeganMD said...

Hey, sounds very interesting. Are you looking for more docs by chance??

Rebekah said...

Hats off to you for getting Zigama Mama up and running! May God bless all your endeavors beyond what you can even imagine!

Eric Selle said...

Excellent! Love the idea of "upstream" solutions. We're so proud of you guys!

Sandy said...

Great job organizing this! You are a good problem solver!