Women’s right to safe motherhood
Reilly Anne Dempsey, SI Programme Director, reports A new baby is ready to go home after a safe birth Alyne’s story
Alyne da Silva Pimentel Teixeira, a Brazilian national of African descent, was born on September 29th 1974. She was married and had a five year old daughter. Alyne arrived six months
pregnant and complaining of severe nausea at a health center in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on November 11th 2002. She was seen by the attending obstetrician- gynaecologist who prescribed anti-nausea medication , vitamin B12, and local medication for a vaginal infection. Alyne began her prescriptions immediately. The doctor assured Alyne
that all was well. As what was described as merely a precaution, the doctor also scheduled routine blood and urine tests for Alyne on 13th November, two days later. The doctor chose to then send Alyne home rather than admitting her. Between 11th and 13th
began severe haemorrhaging. Her condition worsened and she remained at the health centre. She presented low blood pressure, vomited blood, and refused food. Her mother and husband did not visit the health centre that day as they had been assured that Alyne was well. Her symptoms continued to worsen and treatment given was minimal. Attempts were finally made to transfer Alyne to an intensive care unit beginning sometime in the early afternoon of the 15th. Only one hospital would
take her, but they would not use their ambulance to transfer her. It took at least eight hours while Alyne was in critical condition to locate an ambulance and an ICU which could take her.
November, Alyne’s condition worsened considerably. On 13th November, before
her scheduled blood and urine analysis, Alyne went with her mother to the health centre. Another doctor examined Alyne and decided to admit her to the maternity ward. Alyne was registered at 8:25 am that day. A physical examination was performed in which no foetal heartbeat was heard. This was confirmed by an ultrasound at 10:30 am. Alyne was informed that she would need to be given medication to induce delivery. The induced labour began at about 2:00 pm.
underwent surgery for removal of placenta and afterbirth. Following the surgery, Alyne
TIS December 2011 Page 6 Nearly 14 hours later, Alyne
hypothermic, had acute respiratory distress, and her blood pressure dropped to zero. She had to be resuscitated. She was placed in a makeshift area in the emergency room hallway, as there were no available beds for her. The medical attendants
failed to bring Alyne’s medical records to the hospital. They provided the treating physician at the hospital a brief verbal recount of her symptoms and sent her mother back to the health centre to retrieve the medical records, a task which, due to administrative deficiencies, took Alyne’s mother several hours. Alyne da Silva Teixeira died
Upon arrival, Alyne was SI December 10th Advocacy Campaign
But Alyne’s story does not end there. Her story was heard, and eventually made its way to an international organisation with the resources to seek justice for Alyne and the thousands of women like her at risk. Her story made its way to one of the human rights bodies at the UN empowered to hand down legally binding decisions. And they were outraged. The committee, after several years of litigation, found in favour of Alyne – that Brazil had, indeed, failed to meet its legal obligations to protect women in childbirth and to ensure appropriate, non- discriminatory health services. Following this decision, Brazil
is now required to provide financial protection to Alyne’s mother and daughter, who at the time of submitting the claim were living in a precarious situation. Brazil must ensure women’s right to safe motherhood and affordable access to adequate emergency obstetric care and, of particular interest, provide professional training for health workers in reproductive health care and emergency obstetric services.
Just like SI is doing with this
year’s December 10th Appeal in Papua New Guinea.
Alyne’s story has changed the
world. But now she needs help. She needs you to tell her story to the whole world, and to tell governments that they must take steps to protect women in childbirth. She needs a global network of women to share her tale and to see it to its end – not the tragic end which happened on 16th November 2002, but the end where we live in a world that cherishes pregnancy and protects women in childbirth, where governments proactively invest in the training and resources needed to avert preventable deaths. Your voice is needed to make this happen – and SI is launching a new initiative to help you accomplish just that. Every year, SI will develop an advocacy platform for the December 10th Appeal highlighting how education, empowerment, and enabling opportunities can transform the lives of women and girls. This platform is now available on the website, where you can download letters and postcards to send to your government.
at 7:00 pm on 16th November 2002, on a makeshift bed in a hallway. The medical records do not indicate what, if anything, was done for Alyne during the 22 hours that she was in the hallway.
SISWP President, Yvonne Simpson with Soroptimist nurses working in the Birthing in the Pacific project
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