McGill med student walks to save mothers worldwide
In Canada, the experience of pregnancy and childbirth is one of the safest in the world from a medical perspective.
But in developing countries, 800 women lose their lives due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth every day. Nearly all of these deaths are preventable.
It's an issue that has compelled McGill medical student Kammie Chow to take steps to deliver change for women.
“I was intrigued by maternal health and from then on I kept doing research on it and studying it - the more I did the more I loved it,” said Chow, who intends to pursue obstetrics.
Using a fetal heart monitor for the first time, Chow is learning to listen for a heartbeat, and any signs of problems.
Problems do occur - which is why pre-natal visits matter.
“The WHO (World’s Health Organization) says approximately five visits need to occur and in Canada the norm is 10, 12, 16, so we're way above the number of visits that are crucial,” said Dr. Maxine Dumas Pilon of St. Mary’s Family Medicine Centre.
Most women in the developing world will only see a doctor once it's too late; explaining why giving birth is one of the biggest killers of women there.
The World Health Organization says 800 women die every day from mostly preventable causes like hemorrhaging and high blood pressure.
“The differences are from access to health care, to sanitary conditions and even how women are valued between here and there,” said Chow, who decided to do something about the matter.
She and some fellow McGill students organized a Mother's Day walk to raise awareness of the plight of women a world away.
Funds go to Save the Mothers - a Canadian charity based in Uganda.
Its founder, Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese taught Chow and inspired her to get involved.
“It's really to raise awareness - to let people know there is such a difference in quality and access to health care between here and what is available in, say, Uganda or other developing countries,” said Chow.
Part of the problem is resources, but a big barrier is the role of women in society, she said.
Save the Mothers focuses on raising up local leadership - ensuring women's health is valued.
Chow says she only has to think about how important her own mother is to want to take steps to deliver change.
“I just know that she had a great impact. She's very supportive and honestly if I could have that experience, I want that everyone else could as well, which is again why this issue and this reason are so important to fight for,” she said.