Category Archives: Children

5 Maternal Health Organizations to Support Now

Every day 800 women die due to largely preventable causes during childbirth. That number is mentioned everywhere maternal health is mentioned and championed, but it always bears repeating. Until the drastic maternal mortality numbers decline the data must remain front and center. Mothers’ lives depend on us knowing the facts.

Over the past few decades maternal health numbers have effectively decreased by 47 percent, but we still have a long way to go especially in sub-Saharan Africa where most maternal deaths occur.

Large, international NGOs and governments have put their influence and resources behind saving more mothers’ lives. But, this is a big world in which we live where there are many women who still do not have access to quality prenatal health care and who must resort to delivering their babies at home which can often be fatal for them and their newborns. Some expecting mothers, especially in the poorest sub-Saharan African countries, do not have any other choice but to deliver at home due to a lack of access to health workers and proximity to a health facility.

There are countless organizations that are working diligently to ease the burden on expecting mothers in low-resource settings and are striving to save more lives. While decreasing the number of maternal deaths may seem like a Sisyphean task in the short term, there are organizations that save mothers’ lives every day! Every life matters even if the data points don’t show significant change quickly enough.

Here are five organizations we think are doing phenomenal maternal health care work and that deserve to be supported especially during this giving season.

  1. The Safe Delivery App is a groundbreaking mobile training tool, which can save mothers and newborns in Africa during pregnancy and childbirth. The app is developed by Maternity Foundation in cooperation with leading scientists from University of Copenhagen and University of Southern Denmark.The app aims to improve the quality of maternal and neonatal care in developing countries by teaching birth attendants in hard-to-reach areas how to manage normal and complicated deliveries through animated clinical instruction films.They are raising $100,000 to scale the app. Donate to their campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-safe-delivery-app-a-life-saving-mobile-app.

  2. Jacaranda Health is a social enterprise and operates as a 501(c)3 in the US.  Their mission is to transform maternal health care in East Africa and make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women and newborns. “Jacaranda Health aims to provide respectful, patient-centered, kind and high-quality care during pregnancy and childbirth,” says Amie Newman, Jacaranda Health’s Director of Communication and Development.That’s why we love their work! Donate at jacarandahealth.org/our-approach/jacarandas-model/donate.

  3. Every Mother Counts has teamed up with CrowdRise to raise essential funds to save more mothers’ lives in the seven countries, including the United States, where they work on maternal health care and prevention of maternal deaths.
    Every Mother Counts was launched with the intention to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. Donate at www.crowdrise.com/EveryMotherCounts-Tower.

  4. Midwives for Haiti: When we hear about mothers who die during childbirth they most likely succumb to hemorrhaging (bleeding to death). This is particularly sad because hemorrhaging, in most cases, is preventable. In low-resource settings, however, hemorrhaging takes the lives of countless women and it doesn’t have to happen. Midwives for Haiti has put together a program that specifically addresses postnatal care. Many women who delivered at Hospital Ste. Therese in Haiti where they work, either received no postnatal care or were sent home four hours after delivery. That is highly unacceptable and deadly.Donate at midwivesforhaiti.org/projectpostnatal.html.

  5. Zero Mothers Die is a global partnership initiative that is equipping pregnant women in developing countries with unique mobile phones to give them access to healthy pregnancy information and healthcare that could be just a phone call away during emergencies. Their aim is to bring mobile technology solutions to pregnant women to empower them with information and enable them to seek care when they need it most.Donate at www.indiegogo.com/projects/zero-mothers-die-mobile-phones-for-pregnant-women.

We know there are countless organizations that are working with mothers to keep them alive before, during, and after childbirth, but we can’t mention them all. Please list other maternal health organizations in the comments.

Photo: UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein

How Mother’s Loving Support Encourages Breastfeeding in Zambia

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Mutinta Roni Maimbo

Mother’s Loving Support is a non-profit volunteer organisation borne out of the founder’s desire to encourage and support women as they breast feed their babies while continuing to work outside the home.

In Zambia, breastfeeding a child is a socially accepted and encouraged step with the coming of a child, but many women in urban areas slowly transition to formula or other substitutes as the child grows or as they end their maternity leave to go back to work. Typically this happens at three months postpartum, though some women are able to extend their maternity leave in order to spend more time with their babies and nurse them for longer. When the time comes, many difficult decisions are made, one of them being how a mother can continue nursing while she goes to work?

Employment law does not have a specific allowance for nursing mothers, but at the discretion of the employers, mothers can take an hour each day to breastfeed their children, with many women able to go home during lunch hour to nurse. However, others face challenges in taking this time to nurse and this prevents them from providing breast milk for their children, thus transitioning them to substitutes earlier than is recommended. In addition, if women have not had an easy time breastfeeding, they are likely to stop at this stage.

Continue reading How Mother’s Loving Support Encourages Breastfeeding in Zambia

7 Facts About Premature Births You Might Not Have Known

Photo: A premature baby is shown in the postnatal ward at Cama Hospital, a major hospital for women and children, in Mumbai, India. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Premature births are now the number one killer of babies globally. Of the 6.3 million children under five who died last year, 1.1 million of them died due to complications from premature births. Most of these deaths occured within the first month of life, according to new research published in The Lancet.

“This marks a turning of the tide, a transition from infections to neonatal conditions, especially those related to premature births, and this will require entirely different medical and public health approaches,” says Joy Lawn, M.D., Ph.D., of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, a member of the research team and a long-term advisor to Save the Children. “The success we’ve seen in the ongoing fight against infectious diseases demonstrates that we can also be successful if we invest in prevention and care for preterm birth.”

Today is the the fourth World Prematurity Day, a global awareness campaign that focuses on the number of newborns that die every year and ways in which we can help those numbers decline. With heightened attention on premature births it is only a matter of time before global prematurity rates improve just as the overall child mortality statistics have improved steadily since 1990.

Continue reading 7 Facts About Premature Births You Might Not Have Known

New homes recreate shattered lives in the Philippines

This post was originally published on the World Vision USA blog.

At everyone’s most basic level, we all want somewhere to lay our head every night. Filipinos living in the path of last year’s Typhoon Haiyan’s early morning storm surge and over 300km/hour winds lost everything within a 30-minute span, including their homes, and many, sadly, lost loved ones.

Those tracking the storm before it hit on November 8, 2013 projected that Typhoon Haiyan would reach the islands by 9 AM, but it sped up and reached landfall around 5 AM, just as everyone was sleeping. No one knew Haiyan would be as powerful as it was.

New homes recreate shattered lives | World Vision Blog
Photo: Jeana Shandraw/SurfandSunshine.com

After the storm, entire families were relegated to living in tents until temporary shelter kits could be delivered. Some live in makeshift and patchwork homes built from scraps even today, and some still do not have homes to call their own a year after Haiyan. And yet, there are some families who have been given the keys to a new home, one that was creatively designed to withstand high winds, rain, and – yes – even typhoons.

Continue reading New homes recreate shattered lives in the Philippines

India Launches Massive Scale-Up of Pentavalent Vaccine

This month begins a massive scale-up of Pentavalent vaccine for India’s children. With the largest rate of child mortality in the world, this new, national immunization effort will help reduce the number of child deaths in India. The Pentavalent vaccine combines diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) with hepatitis B (hepB) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Haemophilus influenzae type b kills 72,000 Indian children each year. Currently there are 6.8 million unimmunized children in India.

With the help of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, India will roll out free Pentavalent shots in 12 states during its first phase. 8 states already have free Pentavalent immunizations. By the end of phase one 2/3 of all India’s children will have access to the Pentavalent shot, according to GAVI. Phase two will cover the remaining 16 states with the Pentavalent shot. Phase two begins in 2015.

India Pentavalent Vaccine Rollout

“India’s decision to expand access to Pentavalent vaccines through the Universal Immunization Programme will have a major long-term positive health impact by averting the deaths associated with Hib pneumonia, meningitis and hepB liver cancer,” said Dr Seth Berkley CEO of Gavi.

India has already shown that massive immunization roll-outs are in its citizens’ best interest in order to have a healthier populace. India was recently declared polio free because of its willingness to scale-up its polio vaccination programs.

Read more at GAVI.org.

Turkana Children in Kenya Continue to Suffer Malnutrition Amid Poor Health Services

Last week, I travelled from the capital city of Nairobi, Kenya, to Turkana County which is in the northern part of the country. Turkana is a largely pastoralist community with a population of 855,000 people. The county faces major problems, chief among them recurring droughts which has for years crippled the county’s economic development.

The lack of adequate rainfall continues to be a source of conflict for Turkana and her neighbours –the Pokot community, as well as the neighbouring countries of Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia as they fight for the scarce resources of water and grazing pasture. With the main economic activity being livestock farming, cattle raids are a frequent occurrence in Turkana, which is classified as a High Hazard Probability (HHP) of food, conflict and drought.

Continue reading Turkana Children in Kenya Continue to Suffer Malnutrition Amid Poor Health Services

Why Secondary Education for Girls Reduces Child Marriage, Early Pregnancies

UNESCO just released its report, Sustainable Development: Post 2015 Begins With Education, that takes a look at the critical importance of education on the post-2015 agenda. The core stance in the report portends that without greater access to education poverty eradication will become increasingly difficult to achieve by 2030. The betterment of women’s and girls’ lives across the globe, most specifically in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia depends greatly on their equal access to quality education.

In the poorest countries, 2.9 million girls are married by 15. If girls in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia simply have a secondary education child marriage would decrease by 69%. Secondary education also causes a delay in young girls having their first child. Young girls disproportionately die in childbirth. Education will, in turn, cause a reduction in not only maternal health, but also in newborn deaths. In fact, Brazil saw a a 70 percent reduction in its fertility rate because it became a country priority to improve schools and education.

Educated girls have children later and smaller families overall. They are less likely to die during pregnancy or birth, and their offspring are more likely to survive past the age of five and go on to thrive at school and in life. Women who attended school are better equipped to protect themselves and their children from malnutrition, deadly diseases, trafficking and sexual exploitation. – Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Graça Machel, President, Foundation for Community Development & Founder, Graça Machel Trust.

 

Continue reading Why Secondary Education for Girls Reduces Child Marriage, Early Pregnancies

New Report on Child Mortality Trends Released

Today a collaborative report on trends in child mortality was released by the World Bank, UNICEF, the United Nations and the World Health Organization. According to the Levels and Trends in Child Mortality report, child mortality has dropped by 49 percent since 1990. Even so, Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) has yet to be reached. In fact, if current trends persist only Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Asia will achieve MSG 4. MDG 4 calls for a global reduction in child mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Substantial global progress has been made to effectively reduce child mortality rates, but the progress hasn’t been fast enough even though the rate is falling faster than any time during the past two decades the report said.

While child survival rates are improving, the world still lost 190 million children under the age of five since 1990. Every region of the world has reduced its under-five child mortality rate by 52 percent except for Oceana and sub-Saharan Africa. And, the vast majority of child deaths occur in five primary countries – India (21 percent), Nigeria (13 percent), Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and China.

Today 17,000 children under the age of five will die. Newborns make up 44 percent of the total deaths. The first day and week of a newborn’s life is most critical.  One million newborns died within the first week in 2013 according to the report. Most of these children will die in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for all 12 countries that have a child mortality rate of 100 or more per 1,000 live births. While sub-Saharan Africa reduced its child mortality rate by 48 percent, that rate was lower than anywhere else in the world. The three largest killers of children under the age of five still remain diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria.

child mortality map

“The data clearly demonstrate that an infant’s chances of survival increase dramatically when their mother has sustained access to quality health care during pregnancy and delivery,” said Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “We need to make sure that these services, where they exist, are fully utilised and that every contact between a mother and her health worker really counts. Special efforts must also be made to ensure that the most vulnerable are reached.”

Read the report: Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 

Graph from report.

 

Introducing Our Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Correspondents

As our work continues to expand globally especially as the MDG deadline nears in 2015 we want to ensure that international voices are the cornerstone of our coverage of maternal, newborn, and child health worldwide. We are beginning with three correspondents: Winfred Ogdom, a nutritionist from Uganda, Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a motherhood blogger and journalist from Nairobi, Kenya, and Midwives from Haiti, a NGO that is fighting maternal and infant mortality in Haiti, the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere to be a mother, baby, or child under 5.

If you would like to be a correspondent, please email us at info@mombloggersforsocialgood.com for more information.

HAITI

LogoNewVertMidwives For Haiti is fighting maternal and infant mortality in Haiti, the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere to be a mother, baby, or child under 5. We deliver culturally appropriate, high impact health interventions to increase access to quality maternal care.  Our projects- which include Skilled Birth Attendant training, a Mobile Prenatal Clinic, a Postnatal Care Clinic, staffing and supporting a maternity ward, and training traditional birth attendants in our Matròn Outreach Program- educate and empower Haitian men and women to improve the health of their communities, creating lasting change for our graduates and the lives of the mothers and children they care for.


 

KENYA 

Maryanne_Waweru pptMaryanne Waweru-Wanyama is a motherhood blogger from Nairobi, Kenya. She tells her motherhood stories on her blog mummytales.com where she also incorporates the experiences of other Kenyan mothers. On her blog, Maryanne provides education on pregnancy, birth, delivery and infant and child care and nutrition. Maryanne is a journalist with over fourteen years experience and who has written, and still writes for various publications in Kenya including: the Daily Nation newspaper, the Star newspaper, the Standard newspaper, Parents Magazine, Healthy Woman Magazine, Healthy Child Magazine and many other publications. Her area of specialty is human interest features, maternal and child health articles. Maryanne is married with two sons.


 

UGANDA

Winfred Ongom Winfred Ongom is a 23-year-old Ugandan Nutritionist acquiring a Bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics this year in December. She has a lot of interest in making the world a better place using her standards of humanity and care. And this has given her exposure on issues of maternal and child health and their importance in development.

Winfred advocates for children, young people and mothers. Currently, she is using social media to inform and educate people on the challenges being faced by young people and mothers. Winfred stresses the need to step up maternal and child health so the world can be a better place for everyone.

Winfred Ongom 1

 

 Featured photo courtesy of Midwives for Haiti.

Logistics Team Visits South Sudan to Assess Road Conditions Amid Looming Famine

Last month, a United Nations team travelled to Western Equitoria,  Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal in South Sudan to assess road conditions, an important task when famine looms in a region that is mostly agrarian. Without passable roads it is impossible for lifesaving, critical health supplies, health workers, aid agencies,  and most importantly food to reach remote areas that are cut off from main city centers especially during the rainy season and when the need is most critical for vulnerable populations.

Aid agencies including UNICEF, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and the World Food Program have warned the world that a famine is quickly nearing in South Sudan amid continued failed peace talks and violence. Famine is an extremely strong word  to use when it comes to food insecurity and no one wants to utter it until the very last moment when people, especially children, are already on the brink of dying.

The United States has already provided nearly $400 million in humanitarian aid and due to impassable road conditions much of the relief will be delivered via air drops and river transport. The United Nations has estimated that $1.8 billion will be needed to provide aid for 3.4 million people.

Logistics Cluster posted a telling map of South Sudan dated from May 2, 2014. In Western Equitoria,  Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal there is little infrastructure save for some primary roads, which are questionably passable, and a few primary cities. The lack of reliable infrastructure continues to make humanitarian relief difficult to fulfill.

According to UNICEF, nearly one million children in South Sudan will require treatment for acute malnutrition this year and according to Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, 50,000 may die from malnutrition in the coming months.

“The world should not wait for a famine to be announced while children here are dying each and every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a statement, speaking after a visit to the devastated city of Malakal, where tens of thousands of people still take shelter on a UN base. “Today we spoke to mothers who have struggled through conflict, displacement and hunger to stop their children from dying. We all have to do more, and quickly, to keep more children alive.”

 Country: South Sudan Year: 2014 Photographer: Christine Nesbitt title / Job name:  caption:      On 11 August, Nyabol Hion holds her 2-year-old daughter, Nyanmot Lam, at Al Sabbah Paediatric Hospital in Juba, the capital. “I travelled here by boat with my husband’s brother,” says Ms. Hion. “My three other children stayed with my husband in Walyar in Unity State." Her home was destroyed during the conflict, and she lived for a while in the bush after fleeing the fighting. Nyanmot’s illness began in April 2014, but she has been in hospital for only three days, receiving therapeutic milk every two hours for her malnutrition, as well as antibiotics to treat her diarrhoea and vomiting. “Nyanmot is not the only sick child I’ve seen,” say Ms. Hion. “Many children are sick, and many are passing away.” After Nyanmot’s treatment, they will return to Walyar. “My wish is for a good life and peace,” says Ms. Hion, who advises mothers that “if your child is sick, take the child to the hospital.” In early August 2014 in South Sudan, 1.1 million people have been displaced since resurgent conflict erupted in mid-December 2013. An estimated 588,222 of the displaced are children. Some 434,000 people have also sought refuge in neighbouring countries. UNICEF has appealed for US$151.7 million to cover emergency responses across the vital areas of nutrition; health; water, sanitation and hygiene; protection; education; multi-sector refugee response; and cholera response. By 5 August, 62 per cent remained unfunded.

On 11 August,NyabolHion holds her 2-year-old daughter,Nyanmot Lam, at AlSabbahPaediatric Hospital in Juba, the capital. “I travelled here by boat with my husband’s brother,” says Ms.Hion. “My three other children stayed with my husband inWalyar in Unity State.” Her home was destroyed during the conflict, and she lived for a while in the bush after fleeing the fighting. Nyanmot’s illness began in April 2014, but she has been in hospital for only three days, receiving therapeutic milk every two hours for her malnutrition, as well as antibiotics to treat her diarrhoea and vomiting. “Nyanmot is not the only sick child I’ve seen,” say Ms.Hion. “Many children are sick, and many are passing away.” After Nyanmot’s treatment, they will return toWalyar. “My wish is for a good life and peace,” says Ms.Hion, who advises mothers that “if your child is sick, take the child to the hospital.”

 

A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. A woman mixes cassava flour in the back of an old UN vehicle in Langwa Payam, on the road between Maridi and Mundri, Western Equatoria. 26 July 2014 Western Equatoria, South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel.A woman mixes cassava flour in the back of an old UN vehicle in Langwa Payam, on the road between Maridi and Mundri, Western Equatoria.
26 July 2014
Western Equatoria, South Sudan

 

A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. A group of truck drivers take turns clearing earth to drain water from an impassable section of road that has stopped close to 100 trucks on the road linking Western Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal

A group of truck drivers take turns clearing earth to drain water from an impassable section of road that has stopped close to 100 trucks on the road linking Western Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal
UN Security Team Conducts Road Assessment in South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. Children stay in the cab while the Security Team jump-starts a truck with a dead battery in Western Equatoria. 23 July 2014 Western Equatoria, South Sudan
UN Security Team Conducts Road Assessment in South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. The Security Team tows out a stuck vehicle in Western Equatoria, near the town of Lui.
UN Security Team Conducts Road Assessment in South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. Drivers of an overturned truck set up a tarpaulin for shelter from the rain near Yambio, Western Equatoria. 23 July 2014 Yambio, South Sudan

Photos: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine