Aisha gave birth to her 9th child at home in Nigeria in 2009. Hemorrhaging and in shock, she was immediately rushed to the Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital in Kano, northern Nigeria. Upon arrival her blood pressure was very low and she had lost a lot of blood, a leading cause of maternal death in developing countries. Doctors immediately wrapped Aisha in an anti-shock garment that encourages blood flow to all parts of the body. In places like Nigeria, it can take several hours for a patient to receive the blood they need. In Aisha’s case, it took 4 and a half hours. Without this garment, Aisha would likely have died, waiting for blood.
Aisha’s story is all too familiar for millions of women around the world. Access to pre and postnatal healthcare as well as general sexual health resources, in developing nations is limited, if available at all, and women often die during childbirth. Pathfinder International, however, is an organization dedicated to bringing vital, life saving sexual and reproductive health care education and practices to the people that need it most.
222 million women today lack access to contraceptives. They have limited ability to choose when, if, and how often to have children. When women are educated and empowered with the ability to make these decisions, they are happier and healthier. Their children are more likely to stay in school longer and in turn lead longer, more productive lives.
Pathfinder International, founded in 1957, is active in more than 20 countries today in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. They have five key areas of focus in addition to maternal and newborn health. These include education and services for adolescents, HIV, contraception and family planning, abortion, and advocacy. Multi-level collaboration and data are key components of the work they do. They partner closely with NGOs, community and faith-based organizations, local governments, and individuals and emphasize collecting reliable, consistent data to improve programs and provide accountability to donors.
For more information about Pathfinder International and to find out how you can help, visit their website.
– Erin N. Ponsonby