In honor of International Women’s Day, this month we’ll highlight the women around the world that MedShare serves.
International Women’s Day (IWD) began in the early 1900’s when their oppression and inequality began spurring them on to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. What originated with 15,000 women marching through New York City seeking shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights has become an official holiday in many of the countries we serve. IWD is celebrated on March 8 every year, as hundreds of events occur throughout the world to mark the economic, political, and social achievements of women.
Women play an important role in MedShare on both the operational and receiving ends. We have almost 20 female employees on staff, and many of our volunteers are women, too. While we take pride in serving both men and women, we’d like to highlight a few special women’s facilities in honor of IWD. In some developing nations, women are often not recognized as equal to men, and they are often victims of discrimination. Maternal healthcare in these countries is lacking, and the women often suffer as a result. According to the Global Health Council, for instance, more than 99 percent of the estimated 536,000 maternal deaths each year occur in the developing world.
MedShare regularly ships tractor-trailer size containers of medical supplies and equipment to maternal health centers around the world. Some recent notable shipments have gone to maternity hospitals in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, and Haiti. These medical facilities each provide much-needed healthcare to women and children, and MedShare is proud to provide them with life-saving supplies and equipment.
The Santa Rosa Maternity Hospital in Ecuador was the recipient of MedShare’s 500th container shipment in November 2009. The hospital staff struggle to care for the town’s maternal infant population with limited supplies, equipment, and staff resources. They were so appreciative of this container that the community celebrated its arrival with a ceremony. We were especially excited to provide the Santa Rosa Maternity Hospital with a much-needed infant incubator – the hospital’s first emergency evacuator. Our Southeastern Regional Council sponsored the container, and employees Josh Kravitz and Amanda Paniagua were fortunate to be in Ecuador as the container arrived. Commenting on the trip, Amanda said, “It was so rewarding to see our medical shipments actually being used on patients and to hear how they are so instrumental in helping these hospitals provide quality healthcare.”
Last September, a container left for the Panzi Hospital in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Located in Kivu province, the Panzi Hospital is providing relief and surgeries to treat victims of sexual violence and traumatic fistula. It’s 334-bed medical center is the home to two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Denis Mukwege, one of the Eastern Congo’s only gynecologists. Despite the hospital’s pioneering work, supply shortages are an ongoing problem, and we were proud to have provided a container of supplies to support their surgeries that treat victims of sexual violence and repair traumatic fistulas. Panzi Hospital is located in a war-torn area and highlights MedShare’s expertise in getting supplies into some very challenging places.
Most recently, we shipped a container of medical supplies and equipment to Project Medishare’s new maternal health center in Haiti. This container was shipped from our Western Distribution and Volunteer Center in San Leandro, CA on Valentine’s Day, and marked the 50th container shipment from this MedShare location. Project Medishare for Haiti is a nonprofit dedicated to achieving quality healthcare and development services by sharing resources with its Haitian partners. MedShare’s Valentine’s Day gift to Project Medishare was the second container of medical supplies and equipment we have sent to support this vital maternal health center. The first container was sent in 2010 in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. Both contained critically-needed items such as hospital beds, suture, gloves, gowns, masks, thermometers, exam tables, laptop computers, and baby incubators that were hand-selected by the recipient. The clinic is located in the Central Plateau of Haiti and will open this spring.
This story is an excerpt from our March e-newsletter. Click here to read the entire newsletter, featuring stories of an inspiring volunteer and medical mission trip to Gondar, Ethiopia.