When Dr. Juvenal Musavuli showed up for his shift at Butaro Hospital in Rwanda last week, he had no idea what the seemingly quiet evening would present or how much time he would be spending in the maternity ward that evening.
Early in the night Dr. Musavuli was called to assist with his first delivery of the evening: a healthy set of twin baby girls. A few hours later he was called to assist in his second delivery of the evening: surprisingly anticipated to be a second set of twins.
All began as planned. He delivered the first baby girl, then the second, but just as he thought the delivery was over – another tiny head began to emerge. A third baby girl! Everyone in the room was incredibly surprised, happy, and overwhelmed, reports Dr. Juvenal.
The triplets – all healthy – are the second set to be born in Butaro Hospital since early November.
The responsibility of caring for a newborn weighs heavily on any new parent. In rural Rwanda limited economic opportunities significantly compound these worries for parents of multiple births. Because of this, Partners In Health has assisted the parents of these multiples with formula, food, medical care, and social support.
Dr. Juvenal has worked as a general practitioner at Butaro Hospital for two years and is no newcomer to multiple births. In July 2009, he delivered a healthy set of quadruplets – again, all baby girls (Learn more).
The availability of maternal health services and socioeconomic support is a marked change from the days before PIH came to Butaro, when the district lacked a hospital. Since 2008 – when the first operating room was officially up and running – women in the region have had access to emergency C-sections, and immediate medical care for infants born with health issues. As a result, the maternal mortality rate in the district has dropped dramatically since then, with only one maternal death this year.
In comparison, World Bank figures from 2008 show that in Rwanda roughly 5.5 women die for every 1,000 births, while 70 infants die before their first birthday of every 1,000 born.
The new Butaro Hospital – set to open in the coming month – will include two operating rooms. The flagship facility – run by PIH, Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, and the Clinton Foundation – will help us reach our goal of dropping the maternal mortality rate in the district to zero. Furthermore, the hospital’s state of the art neonatal intensive care unit will allow Dr. Juvenal and his colleagues to effectively care for all of the babies – premature, term, twins, triplets and quadruplets – born at Butaro Hospital.