When I travel to low-income countries I am most interested in learning about and reporting on maternal and newborn health. As a mother of two daughters it is my biggest passion.
Today on Giving Tuesday I am proud to work with one of my favorite international nonprofit organizations: World Vision USA. I had the distinct opportunity to travel with them to the Philippines a few years ago and saw their programs for women and newborns at a local clinic that had been rebuilt after seeing major structural damage by Typhoon Haiyan. I am always grateful to see up close the amazing work done by organizations I admire.
This year for Giving Tuesday I am happy to say that your charitable donation to World Vision’s lifesaving work with mothers and newborns will be generously matched in product by Thirty-One Gifts. Products like totes (such as the one seen below), blankets, apparel, and thermals will be matched up to $2,000,000 and will be given to help mothers and infants around the world where World Vision works. That’s a lot of giving in one day!
We are very pleased and excited to announce our new weekly chats all about maternal health with some of the leading maternal health experts, researchers, practitioners, and organizations in the world under the #maternalhealthchat hashtag.
Starting on Tuesday, November 8 at 1 PM EST with Jacaranda Health we will host 30-minute chats each week all about maternal and reproductive health as well as the health of newborns. We will dig into statistics, best practices, innovative tools and programs that save lives as well as feature and highlight the people and organizations that are making a difference to save the lives of women the world over.
Join us on November 8 at 1 PM EST with our first featured organization, Jacaranda Health. Jacaranda Health is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides high-quality, respectful, and low-cost maternity services to women in Kenya. Their innovations have resulted in 99.9% survival rates for newborns and mothers, 45% fewer maternal complications than nearby public hospitals in Kenya, and postpartum family planning rates that are 4x higher than the national average. To learn more about Jacaranda’s progress, view their 2015 impact report.
Every year just over 500,000 women die from complications in pregnancy and childbirth across the world. Another 20 million experience severe complications. But many of these complications are entirely avoidable – including obstructed and protracted labour and one of its side-effects, obstetric fistula.
An obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal between the vagina and the rectum or between the vagina and the bladder that is largely caused by obstructed and prolonged labour. This can occur when the mother’s pelvis is too small or the baby is too large.
In sub-Saharan Africa for every 100,000 deliveries there are about 124 women who suffer an obstetric fistula in a rural area. Obstetric fistulas predominantly happen when women do not have access to quality emergency obstetric-care services. Antenatal care could help to identify potential problems early but will not have an impact if there is no skilled surgeon to assist with the labour.
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.
Breastfeeding has both short-term and long-term nutritional benefits for children. Nutrition is central to sustainable development. Good nutrition in the first 1000 days of a child’s life is critical for child growth, well being and survival, and future productivity.
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for children until they are six months old and continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary feedings until children are two, for optimal growth and development.
What Kenya did right
Kenya has seen a remarkable growth in exclusive breastfeeding for children under six months old. In 2003 only 13% of mothers were breastfeeding exclusively. This year, according to the National Demographic and Health Survey, 61% of mothers of children aged less than six months were breastfeeding exclusively.