On Maternal Health and Making a Difference: Dr. Juliette Faye
Sep 10, 2020

Dr. Juliette Faye is is a certified OBGYN and the director of Keur Djiguene Yi, the Women’s Center of Dakar. In 2021 she will be a Mandela Washington Fellow, joining hundreds of other young African innovators for a leadership program in the United States.

As an OBGYN, can you tell people about the state of maternal health care in Senegal?

Maternal health in Senegal is not as good as we would like it to be in comparison with other countries. We have a high maternal mortality rate — 365 deaths per 100,000 births — which can be traced to a lack of qualified OBGYNs and midwives.

What can be done to improve reproductive health for women in Senegal?

Increasing the accessibility of prenatal and maternal healthcare, and decreasing the cost of that care, would improve it. And, importantly, we need to increase the overall technical capacities of clinics and hospitals throughout Senegal.

Tell us the typical experience of a pregnant woman in Senegal. Will she see a doctor? How often? 

The experience is different in urban and rural zones because of a difference in financial means and the number of qualified medical personnel. But if we take Dakar as an example, here, most women will see a midwife about two or three times during their pregnancy, which does not meet the standards of the World Health Organization. There is a list of blood tests that should be completed, but most women do not have the means to pay for them.

Can you talk about the differences for women from Dakar versus women from a rural village?

In Dakar we have better access to equipment, such as X-ray and sonogram machines, than in the rural zones, where there is almost no equipment of this kind. 

What is the most common cause of maternal death? What are you and the staff of KDY doing to prevent it?

The primary causes of maternal death are post-partum hemorrhaging and the complications related to high blood pressure at the end of the pregnancy. At the Women’s Center of Dakar, we offer preventative treatment for hypertension, we stay with the women all through childbirth, and we arrange for them to give birth in a hospital with an operating block and a present OBGYN, so that any complications during birth can be quickly treated. 

Does childbirth happen more often at home or in a hospital?

Now more in a hospital or a clinic.

What can NGOs such as Le Korsa do to help?

Le Korsa and other NGOs can support the training of doctors, help to increase access to medicine, and continue to implement projects where pregnant women can be seen by qualified doctors, as we have done at Keur Djiguene Yi, the Women’s Center of Dakar.

If you would like to help Dr. Faye and Le Korsa improve maternal health, please consider making a donation.