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Midwives Care for Mothers and Children in an Earthquake Zone

In the six months since a deadly earthquake struck Lombok, Indonesia, a heroic team of midwives has endured aftershocks, tropical storms and intense heat to care for mothers and their babies.


Indonesia Earthquake 2018

Collapsed buildings and infrastructure reveal the devastation caused by the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that rocked the Indonesian island of Lombok on August 5, 2018. Direct Relief staff visited the area days after the quake to assess the situation and support local partners responding to those in need. (Gordon Wilcock/Direct Relief)

Hundreds of thousands remain displaced from their homes and communities six months after a series of earthquakes devastated the Indonesian island of Lombok. Combined, the earthquakes, which first hit July 29, 2018, killed more than 500 people and injured another 7,000.

Recovery efforts continue as the vast majority of displaced families are living under tarps and tents, or with extended family in temporary dwellings, many of which have been deemed unsafe due to structural issues.

“The people of Lombok still desperately need help,” said Lombok-native, Budi Niluh, a team leader and head midwife for local organization Bumi Sehat.

In Indonesia, many hospitals and medical facilities were damaged in the earthquake, so Bumi Sehat is working to provide care in areas that have received little or no primary health care attention. (Photo courtesy of Bumi Sehat)
In Indonesia, many hospitals and medical facilities were damaged in the earthquake, so Bumi Sehat is working to provide care in areas that have received little or no primary health care attention. (Photo courtesy of Bumi Sehat)

Based in Bali, Indonesia, Bumi Sehat is a highly acclaimed organization that provides health services for women and children. In addition to bringing around 600 newborns into the world each year, the midwives and medical teams of Bumi Sehat are often first to respond to disasters in the region.

When Indonesia was struck last year by a series of earthquakes, Bumi Sehat deployed immediately with medicine and disaster relief supplies.

Niluh marshaled the initial emergency medical mission into the disaster zone alongside Bumi Sehat’s founder Robin Lim. There, she found her home destroyed and her family displaced. Since then, Niluh has continued to lead a team of midwives, doctors, and nurses providing 24-hour emergency maternal and child health care to patients beyond the hospital’s walls.

Given the level of destruction, the lack of safe buildings, and the need for pregnant women and new mothers to access maternal care, Niluh and her team established a tent-based health facility in the affected community.

Six months have passed since the team of health professionals started the medical mission. Along the way, Bumi Sehat team has endured extreme weather conditions, yet they continue their life-saving work.

With options for medical care limited after the earthquake, Bumi Sehat works to bring care to patients outside of hospital walls. (Photo courtesy of Bumi Sehat)

During the day, the team serves local patients. Many have walked miles to receive care due to damaged roadways. In coordination with local health authorities, the team also conducts medical outreach missions in communities that have received little or no resources to sustain primary health care.

Bumi Sehat has reported that while local community members work to recover and rebuild, the need for a place to treat vulnerable patients, including babies, mothers and the elderly, remains high. Rates of birthing complications have spiked as have other health issues like malaria and dengue fever.

Though much of the focus after a disaster is aimed at the immediate emergency phase, the longer-term need for continuity of care is critical. That is why Bumi Sehat is working to provide a commitment of long-term support for the Lombok community, and, in particular, to vulnerable mothers and their babies.

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