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In remote Saudi village, women are giving birth in cars

Harsh road conditions and the long distance to the nearest hospital leave women with no option but to deliver their babies in cars

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Harsh road conditions and the long distance to the nearest hospital leave women living in Madraka, a village in Saudi Arabia's Jamoom governorate, with no option but to deliver their babies in cars when labor pains are at their peak. The closest hospital to the town is about 150 kilometers away and the trip there is not a pleasant one for women in labor.

Badria Al-Atiyani, a woman living in the province, said women are always faced with the challenge of reaching Hira Public Hospital at the entrance of Makkah since it is the closest to their town.

“Women are forced to deliver their babies in cars or ambulances that transport them to the hospital. For years these roads have been unpaved and in terrible condition causing so many accidents,” Al-Atiyani told the Arabic daily Makkah.

People living in the village demanded from officials to build a public hospital to avoid critical situations, said Al-Atiyani. “But these requests were ignored despite the availability of public services in our village including the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Police, Civil Defense, Public Court, Saudi Post, and public schools. I don’t see why can’t we have our own public hospital,” she added.

The principal of one of the schools in the region, Haya Al-Atiyani, said their village lacks public and amusement parks as well as a water pumping infrastructure. Despite having 85 elder patients who travel long distances to receive kidney dialysis treatment from main cities, no initiatives were made to provide a local center to better serve them.

Being a principal, Al-Atiyani is aware of the challenges college students deal with commuting daily to Makkah to attend the university there. Many accidents took the lives of hundreds of students and often times the trip discourages so many students from pursuing their education.

“Not only does the commute affect students’ attendance, but the village doesn’t have a Red Crescent center to rescue people severely injured in accidents. Everyone has to be transported to Makkah and often times people don’t make it,” said Al-Atiyani.

Vice President of Madraka Municipality Ahmed Al-Zahrani talked about plans of acquiring land to develop a modern medical center in the village. Construction plans also have been set and the only impediment at the moment is the budget.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Oct. 10, 2015.