Tag Archives: Asia

USAID Tackles Respectful Maternity Care, Better Working Conditions for Midwives

This week USAID released its follow-up to Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality: USAID Maternal Health
Vision for Action (June 2014) with its new report of the same name with the addition of evidence for strategic approaches. These approaches seek to lower the world’s maternal mortality rate. Right now 289,000 women die per year from complications during child birth.

While it is widely known that MDG 5 will fall short of its overall global goal, USAID has partnered with other leading organizations including the World Health Organization, Maternal Health Task Force, United Nations Population Fund, and the Maternal Child Health Integrated Fund along with representatives from 30 countries  to work on a new set of maternal health goals. Set in April 2014, these organizations are now working towards a global maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 70/100,000 with no country having above a 140 MMR by 2030.

Continue reading USAID Tackles Respectful Maternity Care, Better Working Conditions for Midwives

New Global Projects Measure Newborn Health Interventions #EveryNewborn

Eight million children under the age of five die every year from preventable diseases. Of those eight million deaths, 2.8 million are neonates according to the World Health Organization.  Key interventions like Kangaroo Mother Care, pre-and postnatal care, deliveries in a hospital setting with trained health workers, and exclusive breastfeeding are some proven ways to keep more babies alive.

Two leading researchers, Dr. Joanne Katz, Professor and Associate Chair at the Department of International Health of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Dr. Abdhalah Ziraba, Associate Research Scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center have both won $50,000 from CappSci‘s Data for Life Prize to collect data on scalable, low-cost solutions that have the potential to save lives.

Dr. Katz will study the use of portable ultrasound for expecting mothers in rural Nepal where home births are highly common. A number of risk factors appear during the third trimester that can be detected with the help of portable ultrasound machines, allowing women to seek care and prepare for medical facility-based deliveries.

Dr. Ziraba will study Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for new mothers and neonates in Kenya.  KMC involves immediate skin-to-skin contact of mother and baby, frequent breastfeeding and maternal-infant bonding. The non-medical intervention aims to reduce preterm and underweight deaths, which are often the result of hypothermia and poor nutrition.

“It was most exciting and gratifying to find out that our work identifying pregnant women with problems late in pregnancy needing specialized delivery care using portable ultrasound equipment in rural Nepal had been funded by the Data for Life Prize,” said Dr. Katz. “These are women who usually deliver at home or in facilities that cannot take care of these problems. By knowing in advance about these concerns, they can plan to deliver in a facility with the right staff and equipment to help save their lives and those of their infants.”

ultrasound being done in the home

“While the under-five mortality rates have been reducing in the last 10-15 years in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of babies dying before the age of one month has not been improving. The coverage of interventions for averting these deaths remains low, and more effort is needed in assessing alternatives that can save the lives of preterm and underweight babies. APHRC will utilize this prize to support work aimed at averting death of preterm and underweight babies through a tailored Community level Kangaroo Mother Care intervention in two slums of Nairobi City,” said Dr. Ziraba.

APHRC-5

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. [This campaign has ended] 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. [This campaign has ended] 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.

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

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

Human Rights Watch Explores the Lives of Indian Women Who Clean Human Waste

Lalibai stands by the entrance to the village cremation grounds. Before she took action, villagers had forbidden members of her community to cremate their dead here. © 2014 Digvijay Singh


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.

india0814_reportcoverThis is the everyday existence for hundreds of thousands of women and men across India who are traditionally and culturally relegated to the lowest caste in India. It’s called “manual scavenging” or collecting human waste. When women in this Dalits (untouchables) caste are married, the first thing they are given from their mothers-in-law is a cane basket to clean human excrement. It’s a practice that has been handed down through generations. And despite laws in India that forbid this practice and provide protections to the Dalits (both men and women) who manually scavenge, it still goes on without any major government intervention.

In 2013, the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (the 2013 Act), was passed that prohibits manual scavenging and provides stronger protections for those who leave manual scavenging, but the evidence suggests the law is not working widely.

I had to work with my head veiled. During the rains, my clothes would  become drenched with excrement. They would not dry. The house would smell. I started to get skin disease and even to lose my hair.  —Badambai, Neemuch district, Madhya Pradesh, January 2014 (quote from the HRW report)

Human Rights Watch released a report this week, Cleaning Human Waste: “Manual Scavenging”, Caste, and Discrimination in India, that shares the stories about women in particular who collect human waste from the dry toilets of the upper castes and explores the role of government and civil society organizations in manual scavenging. The report also lays out ways in which Dalits can successfully leave collecting human waste as a livelihood.

As aforementioned, these women are not paid, but rather are given scraps of food that they in turn take back to their families. If they don’t work in these deplorable conditions, their families do no eat. That is what perpetuates the horrid cycle.

I clean 20 houses in Sandawli every day. They give me rotis. They don’t give more than two rotis, but they do give us something. My husband works in the fields, but work in the fields does not come every day. If I do this work, at least we will have something to eat. – Shanti, from Nagla Khushal, in Mainpuri  district, Uttar Pradesh

When women step up to leave manual scavenging they are oftentimes threatened with losing their homes and are even threatened with violence, even though the Indian Supreme Court has recognized that manual scavenging violates international human rights laws. What is proclaimed on the federal level, however, rarely trickles down to the municipal level and manual scavenging still takes place across India every day. While the government on every level is failing in this regard, civil society organizations are succeeding and women and men are standing up for their rights given to them by law to leave manual scavenging.

Read Lalibai’s story of standing up and freeing women across India from collecting human waste through organizations like Jan Sahas (People’s Courage) and Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan – the National Dignity Campaign. 

WHO Releases New Maternal Health and Mortality Data

Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 – 2013Maternal health  is one of the world’s biggest global health priorities especially as the deadline for the Millineum Development Goals near. As a global priority MDG 5 (improve maternal health) cannot be effectively measured without full and complete data resources. According to the new report, Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 – 2013, only 40% of countries accurately record the cause of death for expecting mothers. Without this vital data measuring maternal mortality will continue to be an ongoing challenge with missing pieces to the overall maternal health puzzle.

In order to reach MDG 5, vital records must be accurately attained and recorded globally. It was the recommendation of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health that countries make marked improvements in vital events and statistics to better measure maternal mortality rates and ratios, and yet that progress continues to be slow-going according to the report.

With the current, available data released by the World Health Organization we know that most maternal deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and that the two countries with the highest maternal mortality deaths are India and Nigeria, but Sierra Leone has the highest ratio of maternal deaths at 1100 per every 100,00 people.

The Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group (MMEIG) has worked to determine comparable MMR rates along with a technical advisory group. Due to the progress made by the MMEIG in conjunction with the advisory group new MMR estimates have been established and released in this latest data report.

In 2013 there were 210 maternal deaths worldwide per every 100,000 people. In 1990, that number was significantly higher at 380 showing a steep decline of 45%. Over the course of nearly 25 years, the maternal mortality rate has decreased significantly as the numbers show, but there is yet more work to do particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where the need to keep more mothers alive is greatest. Women die in childbirth for causes that are completely preventable such as excess bleeding and infection.

Data from 183 countries were included in the new report. According to Trends in Maternal Mortality national-level data from civil registration, surveys, surveillance systems, censuses, and sample registration systems among others were used to determine the new data rates. Despite the still-high numbers all WHO regions experienced a reduction in maternal deaths since 1990. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, women have a 1 in 38 chance of dying in childbirth as opposed to women in developed countries who have a 1 in 3700 chance of dying from pregnancy-related causes. The worldwide MMR (number of maternal deaths) is 210. In 2013, 289,000 women died in childbirth. In 1990, that number was 523,000.

Concerted Improvements

There is no doubt clear improvements in maternal health have been realized over the course of two decades. However, the global health community can save more women’s lives. 800 women die every day from birth complications that are largely preventable. The World Health Organization recommends that women have access to more antenatal care, delivery with trained midwives and frontline health workers, blood supplies and medications and education about having a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

UN Photo/David Ohana

 

10 Facts About Female Genital Mutilation You May Not Have Known #EndFGM

The Girl With Three LegsToday marks the UN’s International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. It is vitally important that we raise our collective voices today and frequently throughout the year to help stop the violence against young girls who are literally mutilated in the name of culture and custom when they have to endure a lifetime of pain and agony.

I just finished the riveting book The Girl With Three Legs: A Memoir about a Somalian woman, Soraya Mire, who underwent the practice in Mogadishu when she was 13. It is a fascinating read into the culture of FGM and why it is extremely difficult to stop. It also is an empowering testament about how a single voice can indeed make change. Think about what a chorus of voices can do!

Read my review of The Girl With Three Legs and take stock of the following facts you may or may not have known about FGM.

IST PHOTO / STUART PRICE

Photographer Launches New Site for Maternal Health + Monday Reads

Last week I wrote a piece for Impatient Optimists, Documentary Captures the Lives of Midwives in Southern Ethiopia, in which I shared the work of Italian  photographer Paolo Patruno. Patruno works with NGOs to document births across sub-Saharan Africa in order to highlight the current state of maternal health on the continent. Thus far he has worked in Ethiopia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda.

Now Patruno has launched a brand-new site to share his project called Birth is a Dream (www.birthisadream.org). There you can see all of his photos from labor wards in Africa as well as his short documentaries. If you’re heading to the site be sure to see his photography. His work is amazing and shows a rare glimpse of childbirth for African women.

birthisadream.org

Monday Reads

I wrote a few posts for my Babble column about how to give without breaking the bank.

Africa

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