Book Review: ‘Primary Mother Care and Population’

Author(s): Authors: Glen Mola, Jim Thornton, Michael Breen, Colin Bullough, Hugh Philpott, Douwe Verkuyl, Priscilla Busynge, and Maurice King

"This book should be in every health unit in Africa", so said a highly critical and long experienced doctor and aid worker of an earlier edition. Its purpose is to stop mothers dying and to reduce Africa's maternal mortality.  Although primarily intended for 'the better educated midwives', it should be useful for the less educated ones, and indeed for the more enquiring  members of the general public. It is also highly suitable for medical students, and indeed for trainee consultant obstetricians, since their cadres are presently becoming deskilled in Africa. We constantly have in our minds the isolated midwife who is trying to do her first destructive operation 'out of the book' on a mother with obstructed labour in the middle of the night, never having done one before.

We describe all the family planning methods in detail, including particularly the postcoital ones. The novel feature of the book is however its second chapter "How many children?" which deals with the problem of communities exceeding the carrying capacity of their local ecosystems. This is 'demographic entrapment', which requires an immediate reduction of fertility, in 'a crash demographic transition'. Since demographic entrapment is tightly taboo to demography, development economics and the UN agencies and NGOs, this chapter breaks entirely new ground. We hope it will be a growing point for future 'community disentrapment programs'.

The book is large with 28 chapters, two million words, and several pictures on almost every page. It is problem oriented, with detailed instructions as to how to deal with every difficulty that we have ever been able to find. The introduction contains a glossary of all technical terms in narrative form.

It was put together in an unusual way, over many thousands of hours, by a doctor who is  not an obstetrician, putting himself in the position of the reader and then finding out what he should do and know. To reduce its cost, it is published without royalty, for the love of Africa.

The book can be purchased from Kennedy Chadeka, Acrodile Publishing Ltd, Nairobi, Kenya.

Note the above review was provided by the publisher and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SSMJ.