Tag Archives: Africa

What You Need to Know About Teenage Pregnancies in Uganda

Winfred Ongom JaanBy Winfred Ongom, an Ugandan correspondent on Nutrition, Maternal and Child Health for Social Good Moms

ree percent of Uganda’s population is of adolescents (10 – 19 years). The rate of teenage pregnancy is at a high and stagnant level of 24% making it a social and public health issue. It is a challenge for the teenage girl, father to be, her family and society too. In most cases, this teenage girl is not ready to be a mother physically, financially and emotionally. Because of that, teenage pregnancy becomes a public health issue: creating a negative effect on maternal and child health. The risk of maternal death is twice higher amongst females of age 15 – 24 years and five times higher for those under 15 years.

Even though it has been known that rural girls are the most affected with teenage pregnancies, urban girls also face the problem. The only difference is that urban girls are able to terminate pregnancies through unsafe abortions which put their lives at risk. Twenty-five percent of maternal deaths in Uganda are due to unsafe abortion. The most common causes of teenage pregnancies are early initiation of sex, forced child marriage (common in rural areas), poverty, peer pressure, gender inequality, low self-esteem among girls, stigma from health workers especially at community level, and limited access to sexual and reproductive health services.

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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

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.

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A Day in the Life of a Family Planning Health Worker

Salasala, Tanzania — It took over an hour in notoriously congested Dar es Salaam traffic and gingerly moving through winding, narrow, dirt roads to visit Blandina Mpacha. Mama Blandina, as her community affectionately calls her, is a PSI health worker who teaches women, men, and whole families about the importance of family planning. This isn’t something new to her. Mama Blandina has been a family planning health worker for over twenty years and has seen the slow-going, but eventual change in attitudes toward spacing births. In a country where women give birth to 5.29 babies on average, Mama Blandina is saving lives and giving women a chance to raise their families instead of living in a perpetual cycle of pregnancy.

Greeting us on her front porch where adult shoes and sandals laid strewn about, Mama Blandina first wanted to show us her chickens. It wasn’t just a few adult hens milling about and pecking around; no, it was a coop full of at least seventy growing chickens being raised for sale, for as much as Mama Blandina is a family planning health worker, she is also an entrepreneur and has been for much of her adult life.  This is yet another sign of Mama Blandina’s resourcefulness, standing, and importance in a relatively poor community on the immediate outskirts of Dar es Salaam.

Blandina Mpacha first learned about being a family planning health worker on the only radio station in Tanzania at the time. Back then, she recalled between sips of coffee, only women who worked in offices used family planning methods. Now, for the most part, the stigma has fallen away.

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Traveling to Tanzania With PSI, IntraHealth International, and Mandy Moore

Over the years I have had the distinct privilege of meeting health workers around the world from Ethiopia and Kenya to Tanzania and South Africa to India and Brazil. Health workers, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are the unequivocal backbone of health systems that can oftentimes be severely taxed due to the overwhelming number of people who rely on them for care to the disarray of health systems’ frameworks coupled with a dismal lack of financial allocations to national health care.

Health WorkersFrontline health workers I have met throughout the years. Left to right: Angawadi workers in Delhi, a family planning health worker in Johannesburg, a member of the Health Development Army in Hawassa, Ethiopia, hospital administrators in Lusaka, Zambia, and nurses in Morogoro, Tanzania.

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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

805 Million People Still Remain Malnourished According to New Report

The State of Food Insecurity in the World report, a collaborative report from Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Program and International Fund for Agricultural Development, was released Tuesday. According to its topline data, there are now 805 million people around the world who are chronically malnourished; that is a steady decline of 100 million people over the last decade. Undernourishment has fallen from 23.4 percent to 13.5 percent in developing countries.

The good news is Millennium Development Goal 1.C (halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger) is within reach according to the report as 63 countries have already reached MDG 1.C. Latin America and the Caribbean have recorded the greatest progress said the report. In sub-Sahraran Africa, 1 in 4 people is chronically hungry. The most chronically malnourished live in developing countries.

graphchart
Brazil is touted in the report as achieving not only MDG 1.C, but also the more difficult to achieve WFS (World Food Summit) target that calls for reducing by half the absolute number of hungry people in a country. Juxtapose that with Haiti where over half of its citizens is chronically hungry.

The stark disparity between developed and developing countries is shown in the numbers. Between 2012 – 2014, there were 14.6 million undernourished people. Compare that to 790.7 undernourished people in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa there are 214.1 million undernourished and 504.6 million in Asia and the Pacific. However, Asia and the Pacific reduced hunger by nearly 10 percent more than sub-Saharan Africa over the same time.

During the July 2014  African Union meeting in Malabo, African leaders pledged to fully end hunger on the continent by 2015. That will take significant increases in agricultural outputs, funding, and political will.

Africans, however, are speaking up and expressing that the agriculture techniques that have been successful in the west aren’t necessarily adaptable to Africa. Ruth Oniang’o, the founder of Rural Outreach Africa, for example, believes that creating better food yields in Africa means understanding the African context. Oniang’o also believes that Africans can best teach other Africans about best farming practices and techniques because the farmers know they aren’t going anywhere.

“The farmers know us and they know of us. We make them our friends, and they know we are not going anywhere,” she says. “It’s not just a question of money. It’s working with you to make better use of what you have at the ground level, and just being able to appreciate and maintain dignity.”

While significant progress has been made to reduce global hunger, there are still hundreds of millions of the poor who don’t eat enough each day. One in nine people in mainly low- and middle-income countries are chronically undernourished.

Read the State of Food Insecurity in the World

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.