Enhancing Maternal Healthcare

Baptist Medical Centre, Ogbomoso
  (now Bowen University Teaching Hospital)
Completed in 2008

Hugh and Joan Philpott are South Africans who served as missionaries in Nigeria in the 1950s. Dr. Philpott was a physician at the Baptist Medical Centre in Ogbomoso (BMCO), in addition to other medical placements. One of the Philpotts’ daughters developed a medical condition that was life-threatening in the tropics, and the family had to return to South Africa, cutting short their service in Nigeria.

Maternal Health Ogbomoso

The Philpotts with the hospital’s maternal healthcare staff

Dr. Philpott went on to become a renowned professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu Natal) in Durban, and developed a breakthrough perinatal audit system called the partograph—a diagnostic and decision-making tool. With it, midwives in rural villages track various aspects of pregnancies and can detect in advance which ones are likely to experience troublesome labor; those women can then be transferred to a city hospital for special care before their labor ever starts, which avoids trying to rush them to a faraway hospital after trouble is already at hand; many lives have been saved. The partograph was adopted by the World Health Organization and has been implemented around the world. During apartheid and the years to follow, Professor Philpott played a very active role, sometimes putting himself at risk, in bringing together different racial groups to open lines of communication. Despite strong resistance at times, there were many examples where forgiveness and healing took place.

In April 2008 NFW sponsored the couple’s return to Ogbomoso so that Dr. Philpott could teach seminars for midwives and doctors to introduce the method of perinatal audit he had developed, and to establish new interventions that would help advance the quality of maternity care. Dr. Philpott and then-medical director Dr. Timothy Awotunde visited other maternity units in the city to develop closer links with BMCO and to share protocols of management and patient referral.

Dr. Philpott recommended the biomedical training and equipment project that NFW helped implement later the same year, and continued to consult with the BMCO staff via the internet to help them analyze their maternity patient data for findings that would enhance patient care.

“Dr. Philpott is a gifted and inspiring mentor.  His insights were extremely helpful to us, and his recommendations for the future were highly valuable.” —Dr.Timothy Awotunde