After decades of delivering more than 3,000 of the Ojai Valley’s babies, obstetrician Dr. Bob Skankey is still giving birth to new ideas and projects. A most recent project, which was started last year, is the development of a mid-wife training program for the nomads in Niger. One out of seven women in Niger have a lifetime risk of maternal death, which translates to one of the worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the world.
The program started by providing basic training and equipment in prenatal care and delivery to five illiterate but intelligent Tuareg and Wodaabe nomad women. When Dr. Skankey returned two months later to continue their training, he found they had retained 80 percent of what he had taught them. “During their first six months of service, they delivered for over 30 mothers, some with complications, but all survived,” said Dr. Skankey. “All babies born alive survived as well.” This is a significant improvement over the past.”
Medical missions are nothing new for Dr. Skankey. He’s loaned his skills to many people in need, including those from Ethiopia, Mali, Brazil, Bolivia, Honduras and Tonga.
His next medical mission is coming up this November, and he plans to train seven more women. “I’m especially enthusiastic about the fact that we will be instructing our previously trained midwives to teach other women the necessary skills, so eventually the program will be run and sustained by Nigeriens”, said Dr. Skankey. He is working with Ojai-based Nomad Foundation, founded by Leslie Clark and supported by the Rotary Club of Ojai, numerous other Rotary Clubs and private donations.
These missions can be costly, and Dr. Skankey wants to bring this life-saving training and equipment to these nomadic encampments with the aid of local friends. He’s inviting those who share his interest in the well being of mothers and children to help. Contributions can be made online or to the Nomad Foundation, 307 East Ojai Avenue, Suite 103, Ojai CA 93023, or dropped off at The Nomad Gallery. Please note on that the donation should be designated to “Dr Skankey’s midwife training.”