A new maternity hospital in Kenya may be the first in the world to be named after the soon-to-be-canonized Pope John Paul II.

The St. John Paul II hospital, in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, serves rural women and children and has been operating for the past year.

Professor Robert Walley of MaterCare International first proposed the idea to name the hospital after John Paul II to the Bishop of Isiolo soon after the pontiff’s death in 2005. The present bishop, Anthony Ireri Mukobo, has readily agreed to the proposal.

MaterCare says 91% majority of maternal deaths are preventable by providing essential obstetrics and that abortion is responsible for 9% of the total of maternal deaths.

In a statement, Walley said the Isiolo project is an example of what the organization describes as the “91% Solution”: a comprehensive plan to prevent the majority of maternal deaths.  

With transport, a mother with complications can be transferred to the nearest hospital, if there is one, and Walley stressed the importance of an ambulance and reliable vehicles in rural areas to fulfill this need.

“St. John Paul II hospital has a jeep ambulance and two motorcycle ambulances with stretchers which can reach mothers in danger in areas where there are no roads,” Walley said.  “With this system the hospital has already succeeded in saving mothers’ lives in the area of Merti three hours from Isiolo.”

Mothers in villages are also looked after by trained traditional birth attendants and supervised by trained midwives.

Walley said the “big difference” between the developed and under developed world “is in obstetrical risk.”

“Often mothers die alone, in agony, and exhausted,” he said.

MaterCare says the maternal mortality rate, which is the number of mothers dying in pregnancy each year in the developed world, is 1:15,000. In the developing world it is 1:15.

“This is one of the scandals of modern medicine,” Walley said. “Nobody is asking the question, what happens to mothers?” He noted in particular the lack of maternal care in refugee camps and stressed that his own personal professional experience he has never experienced a maternal death.

“Mothers are politically unimportant, they have no voice,” he said. “There is a lot of violence done against women and children. One of the first rights of women is the right to know the truth. Mothers are being ground to the dust”.

He added: “Mothers matter, but do they matter enough? Mothers are women too, but you would not think so these days when so many die giving birth to new life.  We need to have a preferential option for mothers who are among the poorest of the poor both materially and spiritually.”   

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