The story of Safiatou* is one of the 50 cases that Amnesty International’s researchers investigated in-depth. Safiatou died while trying to reach a health centre after delivering at home.
Safiatou, 26, married her cousin Hamidou when she was 14 years old. They lived in a village about 100km south of Ouagadougou, where they farmed livestock. She already had four children when she became pregnant again in 2007.
Safiatou’s husband told Amnesty International: “The day of her delivery, she was in good health and worked all afternoon as usual without any problem. She prepared tô [a local dish made from maize flour] for her children and went to get the hay for the animals. In the evening, when her labour began, she left for her mother’s home. Her mother came to warn me that she was not well, that we had to take her to the clinic. I do not have a motorcycle, so I had to go and get one. That made us lose time.” The husband added that he “did not know that she should have delivered at the clinic. When I came to fetch her at her mother’s house, she had lost consciousness.”
The husband borrowed a small motorcycle from his neighbour, but it did not have any fuel and the closest gas station was 10km away. They had to first push the motorcycle for 10 km… Safiatou ended up delivering at home, but there was placenta retention and serious haemorrhaging.
Her husband asked a friend to help him take Safiatou to the health center but she died on the motorcycle 4km away from the health centre.
Safiatou left five boys, aged 11, nine, seven and four, and the newborn baby.
* not real name
If you want to hear more on how Amnesty International will campaign so that women like Safiatou stop dying giving birth, watch this space tomorrow.
Picture: A man holding a picture of his wife who died in childbirth, Burkina Faso. Copyright Anna Kari