Category Archives: Maternal Health

Join Ashley Judd In Supporting Health Workers in Haiti

unnamed (1)By Ashley Judd, PSI Global Ambassador

Virgila is more charismatic and animated than most actors I know.

She’s a PSI-trained health worker on the outskirts of Port Au Prince, Haiti. And she’s passionate about her work. She goes door-to-door educating women about the benefits of reversible contraception like the IUD.

Giving birth is dangerous business for Haiti’s poor, who suffer the highest maternal mortality rate in the western hemisphere. To save the lives of mothers, we must ensure that we prevent unintended pregnancies from occurring.

Please make a tax-deductible donation to fund the efforts of PSI-trained health workers like Virgila. For a short time, your donation will be matched through a generous $200,000 challenge gift from PSI’s board of directors.

Virgila says, “I reach women wherever they are. I go door-to-door. I go to hospitals. I go to mother’s associations. I go to community meetings.”

She waves her arms, “There is so much need. It’s never ok to stop working. I want women to be able to have the number of children they want.”

Roslyne, a woman who arrived at the clinic today to get an IUD says, “Ms. Virgila knocked on my door one day. That’s why I’m here.” Roslyne — who ekes out a living for her family by selling spinach she grows — has five children, ages 13, ten, six, two and one. She didn’t know about the IUD before Virgila told her about it.

The work Virgila does changes people’s lives — plain and simple. Please join me and support the effective work of community health workers. For a short time, your donation will go twice as far through this generous challenge match.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Ashley Judd

P.S. Peter Singer says, “I recommend PSI because they focus on interventions with proven impact that help children survive the most serious health challenges they face — like a lack of family planning, HIV and AIDS.” Donate now.

Ashley Judd is a celebrated American actress and humanitarian. She became an ambassador for PSI in 2002 and served as a board member from 2004 to 2013.

Our Top 10 Recommended NGO Videos of 2014

Effective video making is a powerful form of storytelling. Videos, when done well, get to the heart of the matter quickly and leave people wanting to know more, do more, and donate more. These videos encompass all of those things and also made us want to delve more into not only their messages, but also spread the word. Here are our top 10 NGO video recommendations of the year.

World Food Programme

World Food Programme workers the world over constantly face what could be insurmountable circumstances to feed people who lack proper nutrition and enough food to sustain themselves. With a rock-n-roll backdrop in this video the WFP shows how they have overcome logistical barriers to feed the South Sudanese during the rainy season.

The Blessing Basket Project

Do you remember the first time you saw the ocean? For many of us who have visited the coast since we were kids that memory is long gone. Not so for Sarah, a Ugandan country director for The Blessing Basket Project, who recently saw the ocean for the very first time. This video in its simplicity shows how far good content can go.

Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Have you read The Last Hunger Season by Roger Thurow? If you haven’t gift it to yourself during the holidays. It’s a remarkable read. What’s even better is Thurow followed up his book this year with an eight part film series. So many of us who have read The Last Hunger Season wanted to know more about everyone Thurow mentioned in the book. How were they doing? Did they see improvements in their lives and harvests? Did they endure another hunger season? You can find out those answers in the film series. Watch all eight and follow Thurow’s blog, Outrage and Inspire.

Norad

We all know every child has the right to an education. But did you know children with disabilities, children in marginalized groups, girls, and child soldiers are often kept out of school? These children also have a right to an education. 57 million children are still without an education. This video shows how BRAC, through the assistance of Norad,  helped a physically disabled little girl, Ria, go to primary school in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Clean Team Ghana

Something as simple as using the bathroom can be very dangerous for women and girls, especially where there are public toilets.  The Clean Team Ghana keeps public toilets clean for the communities at an affordable rate where everyone can use the restroom with dignity.

Doctors Without Borders

Even in the midst of armed conflicts Doctors Without Borders along with other international NGOs believe that children still must be vaccinated. This video shows how difficult it can be to vaccinate children in some of the most remote areas of the Congo and how Doctors Without Borders team accomplished their task despite the inherent obstacles.

UNICEF

Pakistan has 170 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births each year per the World Health Organization making it one of the countries in Asia with the highest maternal mortality rates. Sub-Saharan Africa sees the greatest maternal death rates. Without midwives, more women will die without skilled ante and postnatal care. Through first-person storytelling, this UNICEF video shows the importance of midwives in Pakistan to the safe delivery of newborns and the survival of their mothers.

20/20/20

This touching video of two sisters who were born blind shows how a simple medical procedure can correct blindness and restore sight within 15 minutes. 20/20/20 gives sight to some of the world’s poorest children and adults who otherwise would never be able to afford this operation.

Human Rights Watch

Can you imagine getting up every morning to clean human waste from dry toilets (those without running water or that are not attached to a septic system) day after day without pay? And, while the work is humiliating enough, adverse health conditions arise from carrying baskets of excreta on one’s head from losing patches of hair, having constant nausea and headaches  to getting skin diseases and having breathing difficulties. Watch this chilling Human Rights Watch video about women in the undesirable caste who are forced to clean human waste in India.

Girl Effect

FGM (female genital mutilation) is one of the most inhumane practices on young girls in the world. It causes undue physical and psychological damage to girls for the course of their entire lives. More than 125 million girls and women living today have undergone FGM in mainly 30 countries. However, with an increase in immigration, girls who now live in western countries are also getting “cut” in order to sustain the rigid cultural practice. This Girl Effect video shares the candid and moving voices of women who underwent FGM and are now speaking out against it.

Correction (9/18):  Clean Team is a sanitation business not an NGO. Clean Team provides in-house toilets to the urban poor in Kumasi, Ghana at an affordable fee. They do not keep public toilets clean.

Why This 21-Year-Old Filipino Mother Dropped Out of School in 6th Grade

I met Jasmine and her son, Kent John, 7-months-old, on a sunny day at a free health clinic in Ormoc, a busy port city on Leyte island in the Philippines. At just 21-year-old Jasmine came to the clinic because Kent John had been experiencing a cough and fever for two weeks.

Luckily located very close to the clinic, Jasmine takes her son to the clinic for his regular immunizations and goes anytime Kent John is ill. Sometimes she has to wait for two hours before being seen by Glenda B. Serato, the health clinic’s nurse.

“I am confident with my baby’s health because I can access free immunizations and medicine,” Jasmine says through translation.

The mothers I spoke to including Jasmine mention always coming to the clinic for their children’s  immunizations even though many live deep in the rural areas where rice and sugar fields are abundant and access to health services are not.

“The mothers are educated now,” Serato confirms. “It is very rare that mothers don’t get their children vaccinated.”

During Typhoon Haiyan that devastated much of Leyte island, Jasmine was five months pregnant, but was able to deliver her first child, Kent John, via C-section at a public hospital. Now, she is taking oral contraceptives to space her children with her husband, who drives a motorcycle for a living.

Continue reading Why This 21-Year-Old Filipino Mother Dropped Out of School in 6th Grade

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

One Mother’s Story Of Giving Birth in a Hospital Instead of At Home

Merida, Philippines – I met Jocelyn Pingos, 27, in Merida, Leyte on a bright, sunny tropical day in the Philippines. A mother of four, Jocelyn sat outside her local health center and waited patiently to have her youngest, Lenith, 10 months, looked at because of a nagging cough. Her second youngest, Jelenia, 3, was also with her. Jocelyn’s other children who are 9 and 6 were attending school.

When Jocelyn delivered Lenith earlier this year, she and her husband decided that she should have a tubal ligation two months after her delivery.

“I have no plans to have any more children,” Jocelyn said.

Lenith

Jocelyn delivered her two youngest, Jelenia and Lenith, at the local hospital. Her two oldest were delivered at home. “For the first two, the midwife came to my home,” Jocelyn remembered. “The midwife wasn’t available for the last two.”

Continue reading One Mother’s Story Of Giving Birth in a Hospital Instead of At Home

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.

 

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Why Getting Women to Deliver in Health Facilities May Be Harder Than We Think

Every day 800 women die from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth. That is 292,000 women too many each year. One of the ways in which this statistic can be reduced is by simply encouraging women in low- and middle-income countries to deliver in health facilities with skilled health workers. That sounds simple enough, but it has been challenging. The number of midwives in most sub-Saharan countries, for example, desperately needs to be scaled up and in some cases health facilities and hospitals are too far for women who live in the deepest rural areas to reach. In these cases many women still prefer delivering at home which, of course, poses untold dangers to her life and the life of her baby.

But there is an underlying factor that many don’t address nearly enough that perpetually forces women to choose delivery at home over a health facility: the harsh treatment they receive from nurses and midwives at the health facilities.

It has been documented time and again that African health workers in particular can be bluntly unsympathetic and insensitive to women who are in labor and delivery. Just listen to the health worker in this mini-documentary, Birth is a Dream. At 5:00 you hear a woman crying uncontrollably during delivery and then you hear the female health worker tell her harshly, “Excuse me, there is nothing to cry like that as if they are beating you. Will you relax? Let the midwife do what’s she’s supposed to do!”

Continue reading Why Getting Women to Deliver in Health Facilities May Be Harder Than We Think