Heather Hansen

Teaming Up to Help Mothers

Maternal mortality is when women die because of complications from pregnancy or childbirth.  It’s a problem in Africa–and in Texas.

Dr Gregg Alleyne is a doctor in Philadelphia. He works as an obstetrician and gynecologist at Drexel University. Dr Alleyne also travels to Africa, to improve medical care so that pregnant women there are less likely to die, and more likely to be healthy for themselves and their babies.  He and his colleagues also use technological advances to teach healthcare providers in Africa at the same time that they are teaching medical students here in Philadelphia. And it’s working.  African women used to die of postpartum bleeding far more often than they do now.  With continued education from wonderful teachers like Dr Alleyne, those numbers are likely to continue to improve.

But some numbers are getting worse. In the U.S. the maternal mortality rate has risen 27% between 2000 and 2014.  And the solution may be hard to find.

No one is quite sure of the reason for this increase–which makes it much harder to fix.  There are a number of potential reasons–lack of access to healthcare, women becoming pregnant at older ages, and more mothers with health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and depression.  Doctors, like Dr Alleyne, are working to determine the cause of this issue so they can help the way they have in Africa.

Improving these numbers is going to take a team.

We like to think we are independent and self sufficient. But most things take a team to do well.  This is especially true in modern medicine today, where there are a wide array of people contributing to the outcome. All of those people (doctors, nurses, midwives, PAs, NPs, etc) in numerous specialties (obstetrics, primary care, endocrinology, psychology, and cardiology) make up the team that helps every healthy baby and mother go home from the hospital. And that team becomes more and more important as medical issues become more complicated.

The star of the team is the patient–here, the mother.

In this interview Dr Alleyne talked about the ways medicine has changed to accommodate the team ideal.  In order to improve those numbers that change will have to continue and include a focus on patient as star.  Whether it’s in Africa or Texas, our mothers deserve no less.

Heather Hansen

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