Interview with Maria Hogenäs, midwife and winner of the Swedish Association of Health proffesionals leadership award, about her work in Congo
Background information about Congo:
Congo has always been a rich country, filled with diamonds, gold and other natural resources. This has led people within and outside of Congo to profit from the resources without a fair spread of gain. Corruption is a main problem. Isn’t it strange that one of the richest countries in the world is poor? It used to be a Belgian colony from 1870-1960. The size of Congo is larger than Spain, France, Germany, Sweden and Norway all together. The capital today is Kinshasa.
How is the situation in Congo?
The president, since 2006, named Kabila who was democratically elected, was supposed to announce a presidential election on the 19th of December 2016. But he didn’t want to. He wants to keep the power and blames it on the low number of young people who are registered to vote and says therefore there can’t be a new election. The reason there are such few registered young adults, is because he hasn’t registered them. Right now there is a dialogue going on between the government and the newly founded opposition. The opposition wants to have real elections, democracy and peace. But their dialogue is not going well as the government wants to keep the power. Kabila has appointed a new prime minister against the opposition’s will.
There has been many silent demonstrations in Kinshasa. The military angers the population in order to have a reason to shoot.The politicians in the West only show the bad things that happen in Congo and not the good things. One example is the quiet demonstration. Therefore it would be better if the West could support the opposition before the shooting starts in order to prevent people from fleeing for their lives, as in Syria.
What is your task in Congo?
Maria’s task in Congo is to support the Panzi hospital where Dr Mukwege works to take care of women. But to only take care of them medically is not enough. There are four ways to help the women. 1. By medicin, surgery if needed 2. Money , they are given a bit of education to be able to earn money to survive on their own 3. They are given a lawyer to be able to report the raping. 4. They are also given psychological support.
At first the women are treated, they are then given education to be able to earn their own money. They also get to go to musical therapy to recover.
Maria gives workshops about how to give birth in the best and cheapest way possible, at the hospital which doesn’t have the best facilities.
What is happening right now is that Maria and others, together with architects are designing a blue print. To be able to transform the hospital into a organic place with running water and solar panels etc. Transforming the hospital into a great model for the rest of the world.
Why is this so important?
Maria feels it’s important because she feels that the rural hospitals in Africa and Asia are inspired by the hospitals in the West, which means they also get influenced by the bad things. She felt the need to change the Panzi hospital which is already good, to make it into a model for the rest of the world.
The treatment should be much better at the hospitals. Because otherwise the women will chose to do the delivery at home, which increases the risk of child mortality. The place to give birth should be safe. In general she wants to improve the health care in the world!
What background do you have that allows you to do this?
Maria is a midwife and has also studied tropical medicine. She is active in organisations, that focuses on questions about deliveries in Sweden and the rest of the world.