Category Archives: Maternal Health

Featured Video: #EndMaternalMortality

Merck for Mothers is a 10-year, $500 million global initiative that applies Merck’s scientific and business expertise to help reduce maternal mortality worldwide. So far, with our partners, they have helped an estimated 3.5 million women around the world including the United States.

We agree, no woman should die giving life.

Watch their #EndMaternalMortality video.

Photo: Jennifer James

Researchers Confirm Labor Pain Anesthesia Can be Administered in Low-Resource Settings

At most hospitals in low-resource settings it is very unlikely that women would receive pain medication during labor. This is a problem, however, when women must receive emergency C-sections. While some administer general (inhaled) anesthesia, the spinal anesthesia poses more risks when there is no adequate training. However, doctors and researchers have shown that spinal anesthesia can be successfully given in low -resource settings with proper training.

Doctors and researchers from the non-profit, Kybele, Inc, have worked at Ridge Regional Hospital in Accra, Ghana,  a regional referral hospital that has an estimated 8,000 births per year, many high-risk deliveries. Kybele, Inc began the MOMS  (Making Obstetric Management Safer) program at Ridge Regional Hospital where they teach nurses practical skills for spinal or epidural anesthesia.

“We demonstrated that spinal labor analgesia can be provided in a low-resource setting with the development of appropriate protocols, staff education, and the availability of a few basic drugs,” write Dr. Adeyami J. Olufolabi of Duke University Hospital and colleagues in Teaching Neuraxial Anesthesia Techniques for Obstetric Care in a Ghanaian Referral Hospital: Achievements and Obstacles (June 2015). They describe their “achievements and obstacles” in working to implement an effective labor analgesia service at a busy hospital in Accra, Ghana.

Continue reading Researchers Confirm Labor Pain Anesthesia Can be Administered in Low-Resource Settings

48 Corporations Step Up to Curb Newborn Deaths

A new, first-of-its-kind report, The Ultimate Investment in the Future Profiles of Corporate Engagement in the Health and Development of Newborns [PDF] was recently released that catalogs 48 corporations and their financial commitments to saving the lives of more newborns globally. Currently there are 2.6 million stillbirths every year and 2.8 million newborns do not make it past four weeks. Most of these deaths occur due to prematurity. India and Nigeria see most newborn deaths.

Last year the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) was endorsed by the 67th World Health Assembly. The new report ranks the listed corporations by ENAP’s five strategic objectives including:

  1. investing in care during labor, birth and the first week of life
  2. improving the quality of maternal and newborn care
  3. reducing inequities
  4. harnessing the power of parents, families and communities
  5. counting, measuring and tracking births, deaths, program quality and performance

Exxon, for example, has created a program that helps prevent malaria in pregnancy in Chad and Cameroon. GE funds technology for quality maternal health care in over 150 countries and Johnson & Johnson funds mobile phone programs that sends maternal health news and information to women in 175 countries.

Without the added financial support and investments in maternal and newborn health, the number of newborn deaths would not decrease substantially over time. The report also shows each of the corporations and the countries in which they work. Since, as aforementioned, India, Nigeria and Pakistan have the highest number of newborn deaths, they also have some of the most corporate newborn health and survival programs of all of the countries. Health care equipment and services and pharmaceuticals and biotechnology sectors make up the vast majority of corporations.

Read The Ultimate Investment in the Future Profiles of Corporate Engagement in the Health and Development of Newborns [PDF]

Photo: MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti

Artist Puts Spotlight on Maternal Mortality and Obstetric Abuse in America

Michelle Hartney
Michelle Hartney

Michelle Hartney has been an artist and activist for maternal health and obstetrics since the birth of her daughter and son: Shine and Seamus. While she says both of her deliveries were empowering, they were also very troubling prompting Hartney to create awareness through art about the high maternal mortality rate in the United States as well as obstetric abuse that she says is all too common for women across the country.

“I was shocked to discover that the way American women give birth now is rooted in a past that is riddled with misogyny, racism, and abuse. As I was reading as much as I could about the history of obstetrics in America, I was filling up my sketchbook with ideas and was flooded with visuals and topics that I wanted to make work about.”

For Hartney’s second delivery with her son, her doctor did not deliver her daughter, but she was instead assisted by a resident who wasn’t going into the field of obstetrics. She ended up fighting with the resident and a nurse about wanting to deliver her baby on her side; an option previously agreed upon by she and her doctor. Instead, they forcefully told her to “lie on her back” to deliver. Since Hartney had a doula who advocated for her during childbirth she was able to deliver on her side in four pushes, but the experience was difficult for her to handle.

Continue reading Artist Puts Spotlight on Maternal Mortality and Obstetric Abuse in America