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UNFPA PARTNERING WITH HEALTH CENTERS TO ENSURE SAFE BIRTH AMIDST CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Interview with Dr.Yaneu Junie at the frontline of deliveries under COVID19

With the first case of Coronavirus declared in Cameroon on the 6th March 2020, the pandemic has been on the rise to about 2074 cases today. Since then, the government of Cameroon has taken a series of measures among which the creation of treatment and isolation centres within existing hospitals and sites around the country. The Yaounde Central Hospital hosted one of the isolation centre which has provided care for more than 330 till date. Besides this, it was also the first to receive COVID-19 positive pregnant women and carry out several successful deliveries including ceasarian sections.


Dr. Yaneu at her consultation desk/ Photo  UNFPA
Cameroon 2020

Dr. Yaneu Junie, an obstetrician/gyneacologist of the maternity ward at the Yaounde Central Hospital since 2017,was present during the first two deliveries. “When I was first told that I was going to conduct delivery on a COVID19 patient, the first feeling I had was panic. I had never been to the isolation ward before.’ Again, the case of this 19year old secondary school student was a peculiar one. “She was 36 weeks pregnant. Hence, no one expected her to give birth any time soon.” However, Dr. Yaneu explqined that fever and cough are known to be factors which can induce labour and she had both.

While assisted with a ventilator, Joan[1], our 19 year old mother-to-be, prematurely began labour while in the individual ward in which she was isolated. ‘It was about 08:00 PM when I was called to come and assist the team at the isolation unit.” Albeit the fear and panic, Dr. Yaneu made her way to the isolation unit to attend to Joan. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) made available for her, reassured her.

“ There were people helping me to dress up. When I saw the number of layers of protective equipment they dressed me with, I said to myself ‘It’s ok. I am safe’” After evaluation, it was noticed that Joan was in the active phase of labour and ready to give birth in few minutes. “This raised our alarm a little higher. There were no delivery kits in her ward and we couldn’t take her to the maternity since she was on ventilation. While colleagues


Mercy's baby at the Yaounde Central Hospital
nursery/ Photo 2020

were still looking for a solution, I figured there was no time to waste. I had to receive the baby,there in her ward.” Joan gave birth to her baby girl at about 11:00PM on the 4th April 2020. The baby was quickly rushed to the neonatology ward where she stayed for about 24 hours in an incubator and ten days away from her mum, still receiving treatment.

Besides this successful child birth, another one made it as a memorable experience  for Dr. Yaneu and colleagues. “This was a lady of about her mid thirties who had been locally infected together with four members of her family without presenting symptoms of the infection. As a result, they resorted to self-isolation at home.” At about 01:00AM, she began feeling the first signs of labour. Due to her health situation, Mercy[2] hesitated a long while before making her way to the maternity ward. “We were informed of the fact that she was COVID19 positive and as such all the health personnel who had to be in contact with her had to wear PPE.” Mercy was attended to and finally gave birth to a baby boy after a C-Section. She was later taken to the isolation unit.

The Yaounde Central Hospital is one of the prominent health facilities in Cameroon that continuously benefits technical assistance from UNFPA. It recently upgraded its capacity in serveral aspects of maternal and newborn health.  One of them is that ability to conduct obstetric fistula surgical treatment on the routine basis and mentor other health centers across the country.

 


[1] Her name has been changed to retain her anonymity

 

[2] Her name has been changed to retain her anonymity