IN MUCH OF THE WORLD, THE SURVIVAL OF NEWBORNS CANNOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED
By Michael Gerson (The Washington Post)
At a health center here, a young woman is in the recovery room after a Caesarean section. A nurse takes the newborn to a table for cleanup. We (a group organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies) are allowed to enter and see the child. But she starts struggling for breath. Three more nurses enter. One briefly applies bag-and-mask ventilation. Yet the infant’s breathing grows weaker and weaker as she turns a horrible shade of gray.
The suddenness of this little girl’s death, so soon after her welcome to the world, made it seem particularly cruel. To the nurses, however, it was hardly unusual. Later I was told that Tanzanian mothers often do not name their babies until long after birth, trying to avoid emotional attachment in a place where neonatal, infant and child mortality rates are so high.