Dr. Lisa Masterson, one of the finest American specialists in obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) expressed her absolute admiration on Eritrea’s relentless effort and the success it has so far achieved in reducing maternal and child mortality rates.
As one of the main proponents for the establishment of the country’s first OB/GYN residency program five years ago, she made subsequent visits to the country to train OB/GYN specialists with a curriculum that matches if not exceeds the U.S. OB/GYN standards.
Despite the difficulty and inconvenience to get away from her practice and daily TV show program that she co-host, “The Doctors”, she, however, made it possible to attend the historic graduation ceremony of the first batch of five Eritrean OB/GYN specialists last month.
“I worked very hard for that goal and seeing that actually happen is really inspiring. With this class we are seeing, the dream that started five years ago finally blossoming; it is like a harvest,” said Dr. Lisa Masterson.
Dr. Lisa also commented that on her many years of experience working in a number of developing countries, her quick observation as to why the usually failed in implementing their health action plans includes but not limited to administrative inefficiencies, internal crisis, luck of determination or corruption.
What she has witnessed in Eritrea, however, was quite the contrary: peace, clear vision and dedicated leadership.
“That is one of the reasons, among others, that keep me come,” she exclaimed.
“I have been very amazed and proud of the determination. I think very highly of the Government in the effort to tackling this country’s health challenges by means of the medical school. Education and educating people is where it starts,” said Dr. Masterson.
She also adds that, “It took a lot of determination and a lot of hard work to get to this point within years in post graduate medical education programs in different specialties, especially in OB/GYN which has huge ability to decrease the maternal and infant mortality.”
Dr. Lisa stressed that there need to be a consistent follow up on the programs to maintain their continuity focusing mainly on saving the lives of mothers.
“It is just the beginning with only six OB/GYN specialists in the country and we have five more, and there will be more and more … it will just grow exponentially,” adds Dr. Lisa.
She is extremely confident that these graduates will make a huge difference in decreasing maternal mortality not only by providing uninterrupted service to mothers and the newborns but also by training and supervising nurses, medical students and interns.
Dr. Lisa argued that once the above goal accomplished, Eritrea will be a different place in the coming eight-ten years.
“The mindset of the people after that will shift and start focusing on their quality of life,” explained Dr. Lisa. “They can focus on how to stay alive and how they feel good about themselves.”
The latest statistics from the Eritrean Ministry of Health shows that there are 231 health facilities in the country that can efficiently provide delivery services; of which 160 are health stations, 48 health centers, 17 hospitals and 6 maternal and child health centers.
The Ministry often stated that such broader coverage of health care services, along with availability of medical equipment and sustainable supply of medicines played a major role for the achievements registered so far.
Thanks to the compulsory, nation-wide coverage of vaccination, intensive antenatal and postnatal health care services together with other interventions for all the children under five years, today, Eritrea is completely free from measles and polio diseases that many sub-Saharan countries struggling with. Statistical data from the Ministry indicates that mortality ratio from 1990 to 2008 reduced by 69%.
This impresive achievements along with many others makes Eritrea one of the few African countries on track to meet the the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
Who is Dr. Lisa Masterson?
She is a USC-trained OB/GYN and one of the finest in the United States. She works for the Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She is also a co-host for the popular TV talk show called “The Doctors” airing daily in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Sweden and Finland.