Melding Modern and Ancient Obstetrics in Bolivia

A small, rural Bolivian hospital has turned to ancient birthing traditions as an adjunct to modern care in a successful effort to drastically reduce local maternal mortality rates.

A small, rural Bolivian hospital has turned to ancient birthing traditions as an adjunct to modern care in a successful effort to drastically reduce local maternal mortality rates, which country-wide are the second-highest in Latin America, and are especially high in rural areas. Indigenous caregivers work alongside physicians and nurses in the facility, located in the high plains two hours from the nearest hospital capable of performing a C-section. Many babies are delivered with mothers on their knees in birthing rooms designed to look like the interiors of local homes. The effort reflects the government’s establishment in 2006 of a Vice Ministry of Traditional Medicine and Interculturality — though tight budgets have left the traditional caregivers who work in the local hospital unpaid. —DHF

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