Category Archives: Women and Girls

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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Kenya is a Breastfeeding Success Story But Still Has Its Challenges

By Elizabeth Kimani-Murage, Brown University

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.

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The Crisis Continues in the Central African Republic

Lead photo: The National Forum of Bangui during the report on ‘Justice and Reconciliation’ in the capital of the Central African Republic on 9 May 2015.

The history of the Central African Republic (CAR) has been riddled with conflict since it was first established in 1960, but the past few years have been particularly upsetting. In December of 2012, fighting between the Seleka and Anti-Balaka groups began causing catastrophe. Towns were burned to the ground. Men were either recruited to fight or were killed. Women were raped, taken as slaves, or slaughtered with their children.

To complicate matters, there truly was never a good or bad side to begin with. The CAR was a poor country at the start and as seen in every major conflict, upheaval occurred when people felt they weren’t treated fairly. Unfortunately, a few bad people started propagating hate that sparked killing and pillaging. Now there is no way to ‘take back’ what has been done. The scale of the situation has spread and over a million lives have been affected in both the CAR and surrounding countries.

Today, UNMAS in its work as part of MINUSCA, the Frensh Army (Sangaris), and the Central African Forces (FACA), in a combined operation destroyed 688 rockets (approximately 3.5 of explosives) stored in Camp de Roux.  The rockets were labeled to be beyond their use date and their destruction was essential.  PHOTO Nektarios Markogiannis, UN/MINUSCA
Destruction of Rockets in Central African Republic PHOTO Nektarios Markogiannis, UN/MINUSCA

While there has been some international response and the storm has seemingly calmed, rebel groups are continuing to fight for power. Some areas are still controlled by armed militias leaving many who need humanitarian assistance unreachable. More than 6,000 lives have been lost since 2012 and the number continues to rise due to violence and humanitarian crises. As long as these groups continue to terrorize the countryside, innocent people will suffer.

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Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With H.E. Toyin Saraki

We are excited to launch our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with an interview with H.E. Mrs. Toyin Saraki, founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa. 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.


When did you know global maternal health was a bigger issue than you previously realized?

I became aware of the serious issues surrounding maternal health and survival over 20 years ago, when I gave birth to twins in Nigeria. I tragically lost one of my twin babies during childbirth, and then had to fight for the survival of the other. Even though I was an educated and informed woman, I was unable to save the life of my stillborn second twin daughter because of the infrastructural deficiencies in Nigeria’s healthcare system at the time, including a fatal delay in finding an anesthetist for an emergency C-section. Although I was grateful to leave this painful experience with my first twin and my own life, I realized that this experience is an unavoidable reality for many women in Nigeria, and indeed across the world.

Globally, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day, and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. And, where a mother suffers, her child suffers; and more than 3 million babies die before they are a month old. I founded the Wellbeing Foundation Africa to help address this heartbreaking issue that affects so many women and children. At first, my view was much more localized and I did not know all of these global statistics and the injustice that was taking place on a daily basis; but now it is these statistics, and the real life stories behind the statistics, that spur me on to continue every day.

Continue reading Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With H.E. Toyin Saraki