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With Cyclone Mocha Raging, Life Carries on at HOPE Hospital



Surgeries, including C-sections for women giving birth, continued at HOPE Foundation Hospital for Women and Children in Bangladesh during the high winds of Cyclone Mocha earlier this week. (Courtesy photo)

In the days leading up to its arrival earlier this week, experts predicted Cyclone Mocha would strengthen as it traveled over the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal, bringing with it sustained winds of up to 120 miles per hour to southern Bangladesh. While many area hospitals and field clinics closed doors, the team at HOPE Field Hospital for Women jumped into action, developing a plan to ensure the facilities could remain open and operational for the health and safety of its patients.

“We were very worried about the intensity of the storm that was predicted, so we took on preparation,” said Dr. Iftikher Mahmood, Director and Founder of HOPE Foundation. “We secured our hospital as much as possible. We put together teams of doctors, nurses, midwives, support staff – and they all stayed during the storm to assist with patient care.”

Since August 2017, an unprecedented humanitarian emergency has unfolded in the region as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have crossed the Myanmar border into neighboring Bangladesh. This mass migration has created what is now the world’s largest refugee camp forming in southern Bangladesh, between the Myanmar border and the Bay of Bengal.

Direct Relief’s long-time partner the HOPE Foundation, which is based in Cox’s Bazar and specializes in maternal and child health care, has established itself in the refugee camps of southern Bangladesh to provide care for expectant mothers using mobile clinics and the 24-hour field hospital, which has expanded HOPE’s capacity for care.

Sexual and reproductive health services are scarce, given the disproportionate number of women and expectant mothers in the camps. Obstetric surgery in these conditions is limited, so most women must be transported to local hospitals, but in the face of a catastrophic storm, such transport is highly unlikely, if even possible at all.

As the storm raged on, pregnant women arrived at the hospital in labor. The emergency team of staff were on hand to provide the care and support the mothers needed to deliver their babies safely.

“Between our two hospitals, we had several deliveries, including surgical c-sections,” Dr. Mahmood continued. “If we had shut down operations due to fear of the storm, these women could have been at major risk.”

Despite the challenging conditions, the hospital’s team of doctors, nurses, and support staff worked throughout to ensure that patient care continued despite the threat of the storm.

HOPE Hospital midwives attend to a new mom and baby. (Courtesy photo)

“Direct Relief has provided us emergency response packs for the past four or five years, so we have them as a resource,” said Dr. Mahmood. “Luckily, the storm diverted, and we did not sustain any major damage.”

In addition to the emergency response packs, Direct Relief has sent five shipments to Bangladesh over the last six months, which included 10 tons worth of insulin, prescription drugs, and medical supplies, as well as a shipment of requested medications to Myanmar.

HOPE Foundation will open their new hospital, a six-story facility that has served as a location for patient quarantine during the Covid-19 pandemic, and recently as a safe haven for critical patients in dangerous weather conditions.

Direct Relief has provided Hope Hospital for Women and Children with $6.6 million in medical aid, including medical essentials to equip midwives for healthy births, and provided more than $660,000 in grant funding.

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