Yaysan (NGO) Bumi Sehat (Healthy Earth) is a unique Midwifery Clinic, established in the village of Nyuh Kuning in 1994 by Robin Lim. Bumi Sehat’s mission is to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality and to support the health and wise development of communities by offering direct services; and through the training and development of Indonesian midwives and community health nurses. The centre also offers:
- general family health services
- education and environmental programs
- health, nutrition and hygiene training
- he sending of medical outreach teams to areas experiencing natural disasters to offer maternal health services and educate local midwives and traditional birth attendants on disaster birth protocols
- midwifery and nursing scholarships to girls from poor families who are unable to afford an education.
Globally every minute a woman dies due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth (according to UNICEF World Bank Joint study, 1999). These dying women, in the prime of their lives, are desperately needed as part of their families and communities. These deaths, for the most part are preventable. The Bumi Sehat Safe Motherhood/Infant Survival and general public health project for marginalized people in Bali has proven the preventability of maternal death.
The tsunami disaster of December 26, 2004, led to the displacement of massive numbers of people in Samatiga, Aceh Barat. Medical services in the tsunami-affected areas have been significantly disrupted, putting the people of this region at a great risk. This has created an extensive social burden and a number of psychological problems. One of the most affected groups are pregnant women who are homeless, living in tents or barracks dwellings. These expectant women are malnourished, living in conditions of poor sanitation, without prenatal care/ risk assessment, and with no safe birth plan, no vision for the future of their babies. Many women also miscarried due to the stress and trauma caused by the tsunami. However, there is now a massive increase in pregnancies indicating that supporting services will be in high demand in by October 2005.
In February 2005, Bumi Sehat Midwives, with the assistance of Yayasan ANISA, met with 44 midwives who survived the tsunami in the Samatiga, Meulaboh area. All were traumatized; all had lost home and or family members. All had lost their birth and medical equipment. All 44 were being called upon by their communities to provide medical care, first aid and birth services. Through UNICEF, we were able to network these midwives and provide them with midwifery kits. Bumi Sehat set up workshop and forums with these midwives and has shared this list with the NGOs working on maternal and infant health in Aceh. Other organisations such as Mercy Corps were then able to reach the midwives in a continuing education and services delivery effort.
In partnership with IDEP (Indonesian Development of Education and Permaculture), Bumi Sehat opened a makeshift clinic in Cot Seulamat in February, 2005. Immediately they were busy, seeing on average 50 and 70 patients per day, also having opened its services to the needs of the larger community. With the past, current and projected future flow of patients, it has become evident that the current clinic built in Cot Seulamat as a temporary relief centre is now insufficient.
The clinic staff sees a high incidence of diseases related to the problems associated with unclean water and lack of sanitation, a result of the tsunami in this area. I.e. Malaria, dysentery, skin disorders and infected wounds. This alone makes the presence of the Bumi Sehat clinic crucial to a healthy recovery
The establishment of the Bumi Sehat Aceh as permanent clinic is a logical continuation of an important link within the local, national and international tsunami rehabilitation efforts that have been set up post tsunami. Bumi Sehat was one of the first health related operations set up in this region. Bumi Sehat is now established in the area and is working closely with the hospital in Meulaboh.
YBS found that most all (hundreds) of the mothers they interviewed had lost children in the tsunami disaster. What they also discovered was the fact that most all mothers had lost one or more baby, prior to the tsunami disaster, in the first few days of life. The cause most likely for such a high rate of infant mortality is tetanus. Without widespread refrigeration in Aceh, it is impossible to implement a successful tetanus toxiod vaccine program. For this reason Bumi Sehat has made provisions and developed educational materials for cord care protocols which prevent tetanus infection, and may be easily taught to the practicing midwives and traditional birth attendants. This information was shared in a day long workshop setting in Meulaboh, with the surviving midwives in February, 2005.
Other networking activities facilitated by the Bumi Sehat crew include; identifying via clinic attendance, pockets of tsunami survivors who have had no relief services, i.e. potable water, food, shelter. Because YBS is an Indonesian NGO, with Indonesian language speaking staff, it was able to bring the people most in need together with the foreign NGOs who have the capacity to help these people. YBS Clinics in Aceh and Bali continue to be a communtiy resource center, providing this essential networking.
Through its non-discriminatory practice, YBS also provides general health care and trauma relief to patients seeking help in coping with their personal emotional losses. As a politically neutral clinic, YBS is able to provide services to many people who normally would not seek medical help, even when the need is dire, due to fear of persecution. YBS sees people on all sides of the political conflict in Aceh, because they have created an environment of peace and healing.