Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Maternity Ward and Placenta Pit"

My friend Jim just got back from running a photography workshop for kids in a refugee camp in western Uganda. He sent me an email with the following photo attached and "This is Uganda" in the subject line. Cruelly, he hasn't given me any juicy stories (or afterbirths) to chew on.

Jim gave me these scant details on the above sign:
"It's a concrete airtight box for disposing of placentas, but I'm having a hard time finding out why it's necessary. I think it's HIV-related but I don't know why. The sign was on the side of the road and there was no one to ask while I was there. I'll find out. - Jim"
Holy shit. Placenta Pits? What the fuck. Is this how bad Africa has gotten? Or is this a sign that it's getting better? I don't know. If anyone can shed some light, please do.
I can't tell if that's a good or a bad sign, but I think it'd be better if it read "Maternity Ward, Placenta Pit, and Snack Bar."
I can't beat cuff's joke, so I won't bother. Very funny dude.
I got the scoop. It's a pit, usually covered in concrete and airtight, for disposing of the delightful organ meat called the placenta (warning: icky photo).

Why have an airtight pit for placenta disposal, you ask? Because otherwise they might go in a field, or in the garbage heap, or in the latrine(!) and that's gross and breeds disease. And most incinerators there can't handle them.

Why have a special place for placentas and not other kinds of waste, you wonder? Because demographics in many poor areas and especially refugee camps mean there are lots of births. Four a day in one hospital in Chad (serving 15,000 people). That's a lot of placentas — and they're big, usually a sixth the weight of the baby.

What about other ways of disposing of placentas? You can burn 'em, bury 'em, even cook 'em up (here's a classic recipe and wine pairing). But you don't want to just throw them away. So, my friends, you gotta have a pit.

If you google "placenta pit," by the way, this is already the third entry. Lonnie, your blog is shining a bright light on a dark corner of the web.
There are a few things to be proud of in life: 1) your own accomplishments, 2) your kids' accomplishments, 3) a good leebow, and 4) Google placement for obscure phrases.

I'd trade being 3rd for placenta pit for my 1st in doom & unmitigated failure. There should be a market for this.
it is said that the placenta is full of all sorts of healthy stuff

unless of course
it is HIV positive
then it would not work so good in any of Jimmy's recipes
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