Hello!! My name is Dr Winfred S Tovar, and I am a board-certified obstetrician / gynecologist. I created MIMSI International, a nonprofit organization whose objective is to reduce significantly maternal mortality rates in the developing world and to provide access to prenatal care to all women on the planet. We save the lives of pregnant women in the developing world by bringing life-preserving prenatal surveillance to these pregnant women where they are—frequently remote, rural areas of the developing world where women have no access to healthcare and little education about its importance in avoiding complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
Since January 2015, I have been training and developing community volunteers in the art of prenatal care in Saint Jean du Sud—a small rural seaside community in the Southern Department of Haiti near Les Cayes, Haiti. Then we take our volunteers into the rural areas of southern Haiti currently and run a mobile prenatal care clinic to assist and identify high-risk pregnant women who cannot access care. The pilot team I have assembled consists of two community nurses (recent graduates of nursing school) and six community volunteers (most of whom have no medical knowledge). Lastly, I round out the team as the hip “Pied Piper” of high-risk obstetrics, drawing all the pregnant women from the community with the ultrasonic waves of my portable ultrasound that I carry around like a boom box.
Every month I go to Haiti and train the team in an essential part of prenatal care:
- In January, I teach them how to check a blood pressure manually, how to measure the growing belly, and how to listen to the baby’s heartbeat using a portable Doppler machine;
- In February, the team learns how to perform urinalysis and detect dehydration (a common problem in Haiti), infection in the urine (part of the #3 killer of women worldwide), and protein in the urine (a harbinger of pre-eclampsia—the #1 killer of women in Haiti because of uncontrolled blood pressures, which can result in seizures and strokes);
- In March, we add checking blood glucose using a glucometer to their skillset as they learn about gestational diabetes and the potential consequences for moms and babies;
- April cements the importance of community screening for pregnancy to discover pregnant patients—many of whom do not even know they are pregnant—and how a new conversation of teamwork can complement the process;
- And in May, the team distinguishes the importance of patient privacy as we learn to screen our pregnant patients for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis B, and HIV, and start to create protocols to either treat these patients or to refer them to our collaborating clinics for further management.
And their training continues: this month we start screening for malaria, a common cause of anemic mothers and a leading cause of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, prematurity and low birth weight in our babies. More to come over the next 6 months in 2015…
In the six months, the team has screened over 1000 women and discovered 600+ new pregnant patients. The volunteers have identified several pregnancies with high-risk conditions: placenta previa, severe pre-eclampsia, twins and triplet gestations, new HIV infections, and others. They have created a powerful pharmacy with the necessary medications to sustain pregnancy and treat women for conditions they knew nothing about before MIMSI came into their lives. Lastly, they have also established a close collaboration with Haiti’s Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population (MSPP) and the hospitals under their supervision, allowing us to transfer several dozen critically ill patients to them for higher level care. We have been instrumental in saving the lives of 27 pregnant women and their babies, and we continue to move forward.
So this is what it looks like to jam my way into the arena of women’s healthcare and development: every moment creates the next moment—a distinct contrast to “thinking” where I engage in good thought after good thought, and no one is the wiser. This blog will be a spot where I share Mimsi International’s trip into women’s health and development; where I write about topics of interest with you about pregnancy; where I explain some of the conditions affecting pregnant women everywhere; where I bring to life stories about our budding leaders—the community volunteers—and the patients they are serving; and finally where I explore the conversation of “development” since I have mentioned the concept several times in this entry.
Thank you for reading. Visit our website at https://mimsi.org and like us on Facebook (Mimsi International).
Winfred S Tovar, MD
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake.
George Bernard Shaw