Six Facts About Women’s Health in Madagascar
Madagascar is the world’s second-largest island country off the coast of East Africa. It is also among the poorest countries in the world with a poverty rate of over 75 percent. This poverty rate has inevitably affected the accessibility and quality of health care and the consequent overall health of Malagasy women. These are six facts about women’s health in Madagascar.

6 Facts About Women’s Health in Madagascar

  1. Maternal mortality rates are high. With 335 deaths per 100,000 live births, Madagascar falls well below the average among Sub-Saharan Africa, which stands at 534 deaths per 100,000 live births. On the other hand, it is well above the worldwide average of 211 deaths per 100,000 live births.
  2. Maternal health clinics often do not have adequate access to necessities or properly trained health professionals. Only 19 percent of health care providers in Madagascar have an education in the basics of emergency obstetric and neonatal care. Only 56 percent of primary health centers have electricity and only 53 percent have access to clean drinking water.
  3. Malnutrition is a problem among mothers in Madagascar. According to a study in 2018 by BMC Nutrition, 17 percent of Malagasy mothers between the ages of 18 and 45 suffered from maternal malnutrition and 38.3 percent of pregnant women suffered from anemia. More than 76 percent of Malagasy women have abnormally little weight gain during pregnancy.
  4. USAID is working to help. With its 12,000 volunteers armed with training and medical supplies, it works to provide for maternal health clinics in rural areas of Madagascar. It has even invested in mobile clinics or groups that travel to areas that have no easy access to health care to reach women and mothers with no other options.
  5. Another organization reaching out to women in Madagascar is Jhpiego, formerly the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics. Across the 815 health clinics it supports, it has aided in more than 130,000 births and provided care to 679,000 new mothers.
  6. Female life expectancy in Madagascar is increasing. In 2019, the female life expectancy among Malagasy women was 68.68 years. While they still rank low in comparison to the 2019 worldwide average of 72.6 years, they have come a long way in the past few decades. With an average rate of increase of 0.83 percent each year, they have greatly improved their life expectancy which stood at 45.73 years in 1970.

These six facts about women’s health in Madagascar show that with one of the world’s worst poverty rates, women in Madagascar are struggling to maintain their health and find safe places to deliver their children. However, groups like the Jhpiego are working to reach out to the women who need help the most in Madagascar. As a result, many women are receiving prenatal and antenatal care for the first time as well as access to health clinics with experienced health care workers. Overall female health in Madagascar is improving and USAID and Jhpiego show no signs of stopping their aid to women’s health in Madagascar.

– Amanda Gibson
Photo: Flickr

Jhpiego is an international nonprofit health organization and an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University. Jhpiego’s programs are primarily centered on the prevention of unnecessary deaths of women and children in developing countries. The organization works on the front lines in urban slums and rural settings to design accessible and affordable healthcare solutions. Jhpiego is currently active in 40 countries, concentrated in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The organization works with healthcare professionals, influential community members and government leaders to deliver quality healthcare for those in need. It also focuses on developing sustainable strategies for communities in developing countries to manage their own well-being. Jhpiego trains local healthcare workers, improves the quality of community health systems and makes delivery of care, services or products more efficient and dependable. It focuses on developing technologies and solutions that can be used both in hospitals or in the home. The organization’s provision of affordable healthcare for women and families ensures of level of care previously unattainable by many of the recipients.

Jhpiego began as an acronym for the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics, yet the organization has now expanded its efforts to tackle issues such as the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, infection, malaria, tuberculosis and cervical cancer. Jhpiego’s science division also researches innovative technology that has the potential to help poor and vulnerable communities. The ultimate goal is sustainability—giving poor communities the tools and education they need to build a foundation of good health and continue the cycle without outside assistance or aid.

As an affiliate of a prestigious university, Jhpiego has the advantage of being well-connected. In June 2014, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded $500 million to Jhpiego to fund a program to alleviate maternal and child mortality. Jhpiego is currently using the funds to spearhead a five-year program centered around preventing child deaths due to treatable causes like diarrhea and pneumonia. By working in conjunction with other partners and nonprofits, Jhpiego seeks to create a network of aid to mothers and children in need.

Jhpiego will use the funds to provide cost-effective vaccines and antibiotics to the 24 countries with the highest numbers of child mortality. Jhpiego will also provide other medical equipment, train community medical providers and reach out to women in slums and rural areas. The USAID funds will be used to research prevention and treatments for the leading causes of death for mothers and children. Among mothers, the leading causes of mortality include uncontrolled bleeding after birth, infections and high blood pressure during pregnancy. Among newborns, asphyxia and low birth rate. And among young children, pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea.

Since 1990, the global child mortality rate has nearly been halved. Yet Jhpiego’s efforts instill hope that the number can be further lowered. Jhpiego works with NGOs and government policymakers alike to increase accessibility to quality health services. By focusing on sustainable, cost-effective health solutions, Jhpiego can help provide care for underrepresented, vulnerable populations.

– Mari LeGagnoux 

Sources: Baltimore Sun, Jhpiego
Photo: Jhpiego


Childbirth can often be a dangerous time for the mother and child in developing countries. Pregnancy and childbirth together are two of the leading causes of death in the developing world, since one in seven women experience a complication. The risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth rises with each additional child. Since women typically give birth six to eight times, there is a great need for improved monitoring and response to health concerns during childbirth.

Now, a nonprofit health organization associated with John Hopkins University, Jhpiego, has developed an innovative new way to decrease the dangers of childbirth. They created the E-Partogram, the technological version of the paper Partogram, developed by the World Health Organization.

The new E-Partogram is a handheld portable device that links small town doctors and midwifes to other medical experts in hospitals. The devise also tracks the progress and health of women who are in labor so that complications can be detected and treated as soon as possible. At the low cost of $50 per tablet and lifetime of at least three years, the E-Partogram is likely to become an effective way of preventing childbirth deaths and illnesses.

Although the paper Partogram was already available to doctors and midwifes in developing countries, it was not widely used due to its time consuming nature and difficulty to manage during pressing and busy times. Jhpiego recognized the need to develop new technology to address this major health concern and went to work created the E-Partogram.

With the development of new health technologies like the E-Partogram, developing countries finally have the resources to improve healthcare systems and reach people in rural areas. John Hopkins University and its partner, Jhpiego, are working to ensure that these medical technologies are globally accessible and affordable for even the poorest countries. Although childbirth is still dangerous, E-Partogram will greatly reduce deaths of women and children around the world.

– Mary Penn

Sources: The Gazette, CNN, Saving Lives at Birth