Chinese doctors working in Rwanda recently performed a painless delivery of a baby for a pregnant mother at Masaka Hospital. The medics are in Rwanda under an annual missionary programme initiated by their government. They performed the painless delivery on March 8 - a procedure that they hope can become the most preferred form of delivery due to its benefits regarding easing the process. Also known as ‘painless normal delivery’ or ‘delivery with labour analgesia (epidural),’ the process is a technique where a very specific concentration of anaesthesia drugs is used to reduce the pain without taking away the mother’s ability to push the baby through the birth canal. The technique is already in use in Rwanda though it is still rare, partly because of its cost and the fact that not many people know about it. “The proportion of pain free deliveries performed in China is around 40 per cent, but in the United States, it can go to 80 per cent. It is popular in some countries, but here in Rwanda, not many mothers are using it,” said Dr Wang Hui, a Chinese gynaecologist who was part of the team that conducted the painless delivery, told The New Times. He noted that delivery pain is one of the most serious pain that humans’ experience, and that is why doctors should use some ways of reducing such pain. “We want this procedure to be used more and more in Rwanda. So, we will try to promote it. We also hope that Chinese medics will give training to the local medics, specifically the anaesthesiologists, because many of them are used to spinal anaesthesia,” he noted. Dr Su Nan, a Chinese anaesthesiologist who was part of the team that conducted the procedure, said painless delivery prevents postpartum depression among mothers, since such psychological complications are often caused by the pain that characterises the delivery process. Dr Wang said the delivery cost was footed by the Chinese medical team, but if the mother had to pay, it would have been between $80 to 100. The New Times understands that in local hospitals where there is painless delivery, people pay higher prices that can go up to $300, a barrier to others who cannot raise that money. Every year, a team of Chinese medics is sent to Rwanda by their government to enhance cooperation in the health sector. The programme has been in place since 1982. The team is often made up of about 15 medics who are deployed at Masaka and Kibungo hospitals. According to information from the Chinese Embassy, the non-stop medical programme has seen more than half a million patients treated over the last 40 years.