Category Archives: Poverty

How You Can Help Mothers and Babies in Syria’s Idlib Camps

War is suffocating every corner of Syria and has been for the past several years. In areas that are close to neighboring countries like Idlib province that borders Turkey, Syrians from all over the country are fleeing there for safety believing that those border regions won’t fall under severe air attack. Unfortunately, as we learned last week, that just is not the case.

Chemicals, including sarin gas, rained upon civilians in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province last week and while it definitely happened as we saw in newspapers and on the news leaders involved in the region are striking fingers at their enemies. The United States is blaming Russia and the Assad regime for the chemical attacks, the Assad regime is blaming the rebels, the rebels are blaming the Assad regime, and Putin is now saying that the United States is putting “false flag” attempts on Syria blaming them for the chemical attacks in order to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, men, women, and children continue to suffer daily. In the Idlib camps for internally displaced people, NGOs are providing as much aid as possible to the thousands of families who fled cities like Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs with intense hopes of crossing into Turkey where they instead found the border had been strictly closed.

Aid agencies provide food, water, and medical attention to those living in the camps, but they need as much help as they can get. Four Chicago mothers know this well and have started a fund to send baby supplies to 1500 babies in the Idlib camps with the help of Chicago-based Heroic Hearts Organization. Called a Parcel of Love campaign, you can donate as much as you’d like from bath essentials for $20 to feeding essentials for $80 to a fully equipped baby box for $240.

The Parcel of Love campaign has already raised $92,000, but there is a long way to go to help improve the beginnings for the children who have already come into this world with so little. 

To donate visit: http://hchearts.org/campaigns/parcel-of-love. And, also please spread the word to your networks to help this worthy cause.

Midwives and The Right of Women to Give Birth the Way They Want

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Lydia Mwanzia, Moi University

Giving birth is a significant life event that should aim for a healthy baby and mother. There are growing calls for women to give birth in their preferred birth positions. But this requires midwives to be trained in a way that enables them to respect the choices that women make. The Conversation Africa’s health editor Joy Wanja Muraya asked Lydia Mwanzia to explain why women have the right to make choices, and the important role played by midwives.

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Why The Global Gag Rule Will Increase Maternal Mortality

Throughout my visits to clinics in Africa I have seen the work of Marie Stopes International in South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia as well as Zambia. They provide a full range of quality reproductive health services for women. I have always been impressed by the comprehensive care they provide. Now, their work will be hampered because of an imposed policy of the new administration.

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Marie Stopes International health worker I met in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Jennifer James

Yesterday morning President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, or Mexico City Policy, that prevents international NGOs that accept USAID (taxpayer) money from advocating for the legalization of abortions, provide abortions, mention the word, or even refer women to health practionioners that provide safe, legal abortions.

The Global Gag Rule was instated during the Reagan admininstration in 1984 and since then there has been a virtual seesaw effect between Republican and Democratic administrations regarding whether the Rule is reinstated or revoked. According to the WHO, 78,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions. Under Obama’s eight year administration, that number was reportedly decreased by more than half. Now, that President Trump has signed this executive order reinstating the Global Gag Rule, the fear among the global health community is that that number will rapidly skyrocket again.

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The Troubling Truth About Maternal Mortality in the United States

When everyday Americans think about women dying during childbirth it is probable that their initial thoughts travel directly to Africa where it is quite well known that maternal mortality is rife. Chances are their thoughts never focus on the deaths and near deaths during childbirth that women experience right here in the United States. After all, the overwhelming consensus is that the United States has the best medical care, superior health workers and health system in the world despite some of its inherent challenges. This thinking renders maternal mortality in the US thoroughly inconceivable to many even while data reveal it should not be inconceivable at all. In fact, maternal mortality is on the rise in America having doubled over the past 25 years all while global maternal deaths are steadily declining. Globally, maternal mortality was effectively reduced by 44 percent according to the World Health Organization.

The United States, while not the overall leader in maternal mortality among all countries, it is the leader among all developed nations. The United States ranked number 33 out of 179 countries in Save the Children’s 2015 Mothers’ Index Ranking and 46th in the world due to the rate of women who die from pregnancy and childbirth complications. Compared to other developed countries, the United States’ ranking is abysmal, especially with Norway, Finland, and Iceland ranking in the top three overall. Even countries like Estonia and Belarus, whose GDPs are considerably lower than ours, far outrank America.

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