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    Midwifery: an international career.

    Vansintejan GA

    JOURNAL OF NURSE-MIDWIFERY. 1989 Nov-Dec; 34(6):355-8.

    a nurse-midwife born and trained Belgium recounts her decision to be a nurse-wife and her experience in the Third World. Her 1st international position was at a obstetric/gynecologic (OB/GYN) ward in a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia operated by Europeans. The foreigners here were still behaving as colonialists. All OB/GYN clients had undergone circumcision before reaching puberty. These genital mutilations caused them problems, such as infections and multiple episiotomies. Many pregnant women never received prenatal care. She learned prevention would have eased the suffering of many OB/GYN clients. This led her to a maternal-child health care project in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. This experience reinforced what she had learned in Somalia: women were not in charge and were victims of events beyond their control. Indeed this was especially true in Baltimore's slums than in Somalia. Then she earned her masters degree in public health at Johns Hopkins University. She later tool an assignment with a WHO community health development project in Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. By the end of the 1st year, health personnel had switched focus from curative care to preventive care, such as mass immunization campaigns. Since the early 1970s, Haiti did not train professional midwives. Yet schools for nurse midwives existed in virtually every other country. Under the auspices of WHO, she later went to Algeria to train nurse midwives at the Institute of Public Health. She has worked in a total of 32 countries. Later she worked at family planning clinic in Brooklyn and taught foreign midwives in New York City. Since 1979, she has worked on short term technical assistance projects, especially family planning projects, in developing countries. She pointed out the advantages and disadvantages of short term consultancies.
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