By Anders Svensson, member of the Rotary Club of Lindesberg, Sweden and District 2340 Rotary Foundation Chair (DRFC) and Project Leader Inese Priedniece, member of the Rotary Club of Riga, Latvia
In Latvia, Maternal and Child health is very important. The population in Latvia continues to decrease every year as a result of challenging economic conditions and limited access to health care.
Rotarians in Latvia looked for opportunities to improve daily life for people. Through discussions with pediatric doctors in the capital, Riga, we were told that newborn mortality in Latvia is still high. The doctors explained that every year the need for medical care for newborns grows. Despite our doctors being highly educated and skilled, they need access to modern technologies to achieve the best results and save the lives of newborns.
The doctors suggested that we help the Jekabils Hospital where the situation is the most difficult. The Rotary Club of Riga partnered with the club of Jekabpils and started the project with a visit to the hospital where we saw the situation and discussed needs with the hospital’s chief doctors. We built a strong relationship with them and also found the administration very trustworthy.
After the initial visit, we contacted clubs in Sweden, District 2340, to share about the need for modern equipment at the hospital’s prenatal and maternity department. Our Rotarian friends in Sweden, as Latvian neighbors, are always understanding of our situation in Latvia and were ready to help. Together, we immediately started to draft a global grant proposal. The Rotary Club of Riga also asked for help from their Rotary friends in Lithuania, the Netherlands and USA. It was amazing that so many clubs were ready to help us.
Through this project, we wanted to provide modern medical equipment. All staff are well educated for their professions but mainly work with old equipment. New equipment would provide early detection and access to immediate interventions. Mothers and new borns would have access to evidence-based health care. The number of children surviving early birth would increase. About 500 to 1000 children per year would benefit from this new equipment.
All the equipment was installed in the Spring and all staff were educated on how to use it. Participating Rotarians from the various different clubs and countries visited the hospital in Jekabpils. They received a guided tour of the two departments, prenatal and maternity, where they could see all the equipment working as planned. Chief Doctor Inguna Kaleja expressed her sincere gratitude for helping them save the lives of new born babies.
Rotary clubs in District 2340 and the Rotary Club of Riga have been working together since 2003. Earlier joint projects focused on schools and elderly homes. This is our 10th global grant project together, and today we have even more support from clubs. We are convinced that working together is most important to be successful in global grant projects. We inspire each other and together we have more competence and experience. This 10th project will be completed in 2018, the year when Latvia celebrates its 100th anniversary. That has inspired us even more.