Category Archives: Maternal Health

Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With Liya Kebede #MHHSS

We are excited to publish our fourth interview in our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with Liya Kebede, Supermodel and Founder of the Liya Kebede Foundation. Throughout the summer we will speak with some of the most notable maternal health advocates in the world ahead of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference that will be held in Mexico City between October 18 – 21, 2015. Follow the conversation at #MHHSS.

LiyaLiya Kebede is an accomplished designer, supermodel, actress and maternal health advocate. She has been featured on multiple American and international Vogue covers, has appeared in runway shows and major print campaigns for top designers around the world, and is a global brand ambassador for L’Oreal in the cosmetic, skincare, and hair care categories.  Kebede founded The Liya Kebede Foundation (lkfound.org) in 2005 with the mission to reduce maternal and newborn mortality.  In 2007 she launched the clothing line lemlem, (lemlem.com) meaning to bloom and flourish in Amharic.  The line is handwoven in Ethiopia and recently began expanding into other categories while maintaining production in Africa. In recognition of her body of work, Kebede was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2010. 

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Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese #MHHSS

We are happy to publish our third interview in our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese, Founder and Executive Director of Save the Mothers. Throughout the summer we will speak with some of the most notable maternal health advocates in the world ahead of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference that will be held in Mexico City between October 18 – 21, 2015. Follow the conversation at #MHHSS.

The morning I spoke to Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese she had just come off of a late shift delivering babies at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. Two of the expectant mothers in her care during the night were African. One expectant mother hemorrhaged directly after delivery and the other who had undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) needed it to be wholly reversed before she could deliver her baby. Dr. Chamberlain Froese was able to successfully reverse the FGM and saved both mothers’ and babies’ lives during delivery.

Just another day at the office.

Given each of the mothers’ obstetric complications if they still lived in Africa, the probability is they would not have survived their deliveries. In fact, 800 women around the world, particularly those who live in low- and middle-income countries, die every day during childbirth from largely preventable causes like postpartum hemorrhaging or obstructed labor. In Canada, both women survived and delivered healthy newborns. In Africa, that likely would not have been the case. After caring for these women, the lingering question arose again for Chamberlain Froese: Why is it that women who deliver in the West are more valuable than other mothers?
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[Updated] Photographer Captures the Realities of Maternal Health in Haiti

B.D. Colen, a documentary photographer, is currently in Haiti with our partner Midwives for Haiti capturing the realities of maternal health for many Haitian women who live in the country’s poor Central Plateau. The mothers who receive care from Midwives for Haiti are the lucky ones. They have access to prenatal care at mobile clinics in the region as well as in far-off villages with traditional birth attendants or matrones as they are called in Creole. Expectant mothers are also afforded quality labor and delivery as well as postnatal care in the hospital. Midwives for Haiti also teaches matrones how to perform safe, clean births for women who object to delivering in the hospital or for those who want to deliver in the hospital but it’s too far and they cannot afford transport.

As you may recall, I spent a few days in Hinche, Haiti and visited L’Hôpital Sainte-Thérèse earlier this year with Midwives for Haiti. There, I spent time with the visiting certified nurse midwives as they did rounds. Read my piece: Maternity Ward Observations: Midwifery Care in a Haitian Hospital.

Colen is documenting Midwives for Haiti’s work at their mobile clinic as well as at L’Hôpital Sainte-Thérèse. He has also visited mothers’ home.

Below are photos he has posted this week. Follow him @TheBDColen.


8/ 24/ 15: Updated to include additional posted photos from B.D. Colen.

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Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With Dr. Priya Agrawal #MHHSS

We are happy to publish our second interview in our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with Dr. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers. Throughout the summer we will speak with some of the most notable maternal health advocates in the world ahead of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference that will be held in Mexico City between October 18 – 21, 2015.  Follow the conversation at #MHHSS.


Speaking with Dr. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers, for this latest interview in our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series, I instinctively realized that she is not only a gifted communicator with a passion for women’s health, but also an infectious advocate for safe motherhood both in the United States and worldwide.

Merck for Mothers, a 10-year, $500 million initiative aimed at reducing maternal mortality, was launched in 2011 and initially set robust goals to reduce women’s deaths during childbirth in low- and middle-income countries. Like many in America, Merck for Mothers failed to initially realize at the time that maternal mortality in the United States is a persistent problem that is steadily worsening. In fact, that line of thinking is quite understandable given most of the 800 women who die every day during childbirth live in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

The good news for women living in low- and middle-income countries, however, is maternal mortality has drastically been reduced by 45 percent since 1990, a marked change despite the future reductions that still need to occur during the Sustainable Development Goals era. Sadly, in the United States the numbers are not improving.  “The United States is the forgotten child when it comes to maternal mortality,” Agrawal mentions. “We learned very quickly that even in our backyards we had to do something. Maternal mortality has more than doubled in the United States. The trend is going in the wrong direction.” Given the amount of money spent on health care in the United States, we experience the highest maternal mortality ratio than any other developed country in the world.

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