Mozambique is one of the most dangerous places in the world to have a child. MERCEDES SAYAGUES visits rural clinics to find out why.
"Who wants to give birth here?" said the midwife, as she threw open the door of the maternity ward: a mud-and-straw hut, baking hot under the merciless sun in Ngapa village, Mueda district, in northern Mozambique.
Four beds, two mattresses, a torn, ramshackle gynaecological bed, a rusty stand holding a plastic pail, and little more. The midwife had no aspirator, no electricity, and no running water (see slideshow here).
And she was tired. Diabetic, a few months away from retirement, worn by a hard life, bitter because she had been promised a brick house with running water but was living in a pau-a-pique (mud) hut, not much different from the maternity ward. She had not bothered to register any of the births or deaths in the last three months.
I was visiting rural clinics in the remote Mueda plateau, along the border with Tanzania. This is what I saw:
In Imbuo village, the clinic is freshly painted red and white, but a woman in labour must bring her own water, food, sheets and a paraffin lantern....