Saving Mothers, Giving Life is a public-private partnership that works with impoverished communities whose mothers have no functioning health care during pregnancy. The organization facilitates health services in Uganda, Zambia and Nigeria in order to better equip their network to ensure a focus on the most vulnerable period for mothers and their newborns – during labor, delivery and 48 hours after birth.
Maternal and infant mortality often mingle together because when a woman dies during childbirth (which occurs around every 2 minutes) her baby’s chance of dying instantly increases by 10 percent. However, institutionalized deliveries have far less complications and drastically improve the conditions of both the mother and newborn postpartum.
In Uganda and Zambia alone there are an estimated 2 million births annually of which 50,000 maternal and infant mortality rates occur because there is no accessible health care service to provide a safe and sanitary facility for women during their pregnancy. Coupled with the fact that nearly half of all Africans lack essential drugs to treat basic infections, these conditions substantiate the reason why approximately 3 percent of births account for infant mortality in the two states combined.
Saving Mothers, Giving Life offers a solution to the detrimental situation of mothers in Uganda and Zambia through various methods that, since their application, have reduced the maternal mortality ratio in Uganda by 45 percent and in Zambia by 53 percent. The foci of the organization all occur within a couple days and because of this a few approaches have proven to be the most effective in practice:
- Training and mentoring has been a paramount tactic utilized by the organization. In doing this, they establish a means of aiding communities who have no physician or facilities, creating self-reliance.
- Generating and providing facilities with essential health care supplies that have increased in number of institutionalized births in Uganda by 30 percent and in Zambia by a staggering 90 percent.
- Mobilizing the community to vie for a health care service in their region in order to strengthen their network empowers communication and transportation along with stabilizing the means by which people seek treatment or consultations.
Currently, the organization only operates in 26 districts across Uganda and Zambia; however, it has extended its reach into Nigeria where 14 percent of the world’s maternal mortality and 25 percent of newborn mortality occur. Since its arrival in Cross River State in southern Nigeria, a 40 percent increase of women giving birth in a facility marks its success.
Since 2012 when the organization launched, the drops in mortality rates have only solidified that saving women in low-resource settings and reaching the “audacious 50% reduction of maternal deaths in both countries now seems not only possible, but probable,” secretariat of Saving Mothers, Giving Life said in its 2015 Mid-Initiate Report.
– Emilio Rivera