Posts

Pregnant Women and Children
The Yemeni Civil War began in 2015 and has become a humanitarian crisis, devastating families and communities. The conflict between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels continues with no end in sight. More than 80 percent of the population, about 24 million people, lack food, health care and safe living conditions. Those who need assistance most are pregnant women, newborns and children.

Childcare and the Civil War

The civil war in Yemen prevents the most defenseless people in Yemeni society — pregnant women, newborns and children — from receiving life-saving medical treatment on time. At MSF’s Taiz Houban Mother and Child Hospital, the number of children and newborns dead on arrival at the location has doubled from 52 in 2016 to 103 in 2018. The most prevalent causes of death in newborns were prematurity, deprivation of oxygen known as birth asphyxia and severe infection.

Families struggle to find access to limited medical facilities and must navigate frontlines and checkpoints to receive care. Additionally, the Yemenis’ ability to access healthcare of any kind has dramatically diminished. Due to the declining economy that has devalued people’s savings, the vast majority depend on insufficient public healthcare.

Despite the conditions pregnant women and children during the Yemen Crisis are facing, several organizations aim to help these disadvantaged Yemenis receive the care they need.

Stay Safe Mama Project

The United Nations Population Fund, with help from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has launched the Stay Safe Mama project so that pregnant women in Yemen can safely deliver their babies. As a result, 300 health facilities have been enhanced with reproductive health kits, medicine and supplies for maternity units. The project also supports midwives in local communities so that pregnant women and children during the Yemen Crisis who don’t have access to a hospital can still obtain the care they deserve. Aisha, a 27-year-old, who fled the violence from her village in Hodeida and now lives in a small shack with multiple relatives and children, received healthcare through a center organized under the ‘Stay Safe Mama’ project.

“The care I received at the center was beyond what I expected,” Aisha told representatives from UNFPA. Aisha also said that she “had regular check-ups, and when it was time to give birth, [she] was not worried anymore. [She] gave birth to a healthy baby girl.”

Responsive Governance Project

The Responsive Governance Project (RGP), with the assistance of the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), provides instruction to improve the skills and knowledge of midwives. Additionally, RGP’s main priority is to provide pregnant women and children during the Yemen Crisis access to emergency obstetrical and natal care. Dr. Jamila Alraabi, the Deputy Health and Population Minister, states that the RGP has supported her agency and local health councils to improve maternal health policies.

In speaking with Jeff Baron from Counterpart International, Dr. Alraabi said that “no one can work alone, and no one can achieve success alone. It should be a partnership, and this is our hope in Yemen, that we will not have a woman die from preventable causes.”

UNICEF and Yemen

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides Yemenis access to health treatment and access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. As of August 2019, UNICEF maintained over 3,700 health centers and aided around 730,000 pregnant and lactating women by providing basic health care services. Additionally, 11.8 million children were vaccinated for measles and rubella, and 200,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition. Going forward, UNICEF’s efforts will focus on “strengthening systems, improving access to primary health care, as well as malnutrition management and disease outbreak response, including maintaining vaccination coverage.”

These three organizations are just examples of the efforts raising awareness and providing aid toward the Yemen Crisis. Children continue to be killed and injured during the conflict. Before COVID-19, 2 million children under the age of five were dying from acute malnutrition and in need of treatment. In addition to this, around 70 percent of the arriving pregnant women experience “obstructed labor, prolonged labor, eclampsia, uterine rupture or post-partum bleeding” and other life-threatening conditions. While the conflict continues, these organizations are making efforts that have helped many women and children in Yemen. 

– Mia Mendez
Photo: Flickr

Goals for Girls: Sports and Empowerment“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they can understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination,” said South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela. Soccer is the world’s most popular sport. More than 240 million people play soccer. At least 30 million girls participate in the sport. Goals for Girls helps young women across the globe score their own goals and celebrate empowerment.

Goals For Girls

Goals for Girls changes the world of young women. It started with a team of 16-year-old soccer players who opted to impact the world through soccer rather than compete at an international tournament. Now, Goals for Girls has teamed up with funding agencies, new partners and stars of the U.S. women’s national soccer team to teach and develop young women into agents of change through soccer. The organization aspires to give each young girl the tools to become a world changer.

Sports offer many psychological and physical benefits for girls and women. People who participate in sports benefit from a more positive body image, self-concept and overall well-being. In 2016, Saudi Arabia sent four women to compete in the Rio Olympics. This historical move represented a forward shift for women in Saudi Arabia. Before, they had faced discrimination and had restricted rights; they still do.

Maria Toorpakai, a Pakistani squash player, uses her sport to face and fight the Taliban. She gained their attention as she rose to fame. She moved to Canada to train, but she hopes to go back to Pakistan to bring sports to boys and girls. The U.S. women’s national soccer team is paid one-fourth of what their male counterparts are, but it is paving the way for the equal pay movement.

India

India hosted the first Goals for Girls program in 2014. The program tackled awareness, communication, teamwork and goal-setting. These are the four international summit pillars of Goals for Girls. The organization aimed to facilitate activities that help with issues the young girls faced on a regular basis like gender-based violence, child marriage and education inequality.

Child marriage has been practiced for centuries in India. In 2016, 27 percent of marriages were child marriages. Luckily, this is improving. Child marriage has decreased from 47 percent in 2006. Child marriage facilitates the cycle of poverty which enables malnutrition, illiteracy and gender discrimination. Child marriage also perpetuates a cycle of gender-based violence and education inequality.

Girls are more likely to be pulled from educational opportunities. Additionally, girls who marry young tend to have lower educational levels and are perceived as an economic liability to their family. UNICEF is working with the Indian government to forgo child marriage through girls’ empowerment, which aligns with the mission of Goals for Girls.

South Africa

South Africa became a country of focus after the launch of the program in 2007. In South Africa, the program centers around the aforementioned international pillars, but the activities are tailored toward issues plaguing girls in South Africa like HIV, teenage pregnancy and education inequality.

There have been strides made in recent years to combat the HIV epidemic. Despite having the largest antiretroviral treatment program globally, South Africa still has the highest prevalence of HIV in the world. Poverty, along with gender-based violence and gender inequality, perpetuates the discrepancy between gender and HIV rates. In 2016, South Africa implemented the “She Conquers” campaign to increase economic opportunities for women, prevent gender-based violence and keep girls in school.

Sports have been a platform for change for many women on a global scale. Goals for Girls is working to make that change even stronger. It is providing girls with education, teamwork building skills and important life skills. Its ultimate goal is women’s equality.

Gwendolin Schemm
Photo: Flickr

PianoterraIn Italian, “pianoterra” translates to “ground floor.” Pianoterra is also an organization based in Italy that is working to keep refugee mothers and children safe.

The Mission of Pianoterra

Pianoterra was founded by Alessia Bulgari, Flaminia Trapani and Ciro Nesci. According to the group’s website, “[the founders’] stories are intertwined by personal ties: Alessia and Flaminia are cousins, Flaminia and Ciro are husband and wife.”

The organization was founded in 2008 with the main goal of helping immigrant women get the necessary things to be able to prosper in Italy. When the organization began, 58 percent of the women seeking help from the organization was Italian while the other 50 percent was foreign. Today, 98 percent are foreign women.

Pianoterra’s Past Initiatives

Pianoterra has led several initiatives to improve the lives of refugee women and children. Two of these important projects include “Right to Feed – Support of Breastfeeding” and “From Mom to Mom.”

The project “Right to Feed – Support of Breastfeeding” began in January 2009. The project was aimed at mothers who were unable to breastfeed and did not have a sufficient amount of money to be able to feed their children. Pianoterra worked to “distribute free formula milk, according to pediatric prescriptions, and other basic necessities.”

With the “From Mom to Mom” initiative, Pianoterra helped mothers by collecting and distributing second-hand items for children. By collecting second-hand articles and connecting the women who donate with the women in need, mothers are “directly linked to a solidarity network of other women and mothers willing to support,” according to the organization’s website.

The Immigration Situation in Italy

Currently, immigration to Italy is occurring in large numbers. In 2018 alone, approximately 33,000 refugees have fled to Italy. However, the nation’s new interior minister has stated that “the country will no longer be ‘Europe’s refugee camp,’” according to TeleSur.

With the new government leaders in Italy, many refugees cannot count on staying in Italy. TeleSur reports that Italy’s “right-wing League stated that the vast majority of migrants in Italy have no right to refugee status, Italy cannot help them and by accepting low pay they worsen the working conditions of Italians.”

Although the Italian government is changing, there are still organizations working to help women and refugees prosper in the country. Pianoterra will continue to assist mothers in caring for their children and bettering their futures.

– Valeria Flores
Photo: Flickr

Maternal Mortality in India
USAID and its partner organizations implemented the development impact Utkrisht bond in February 2018. Many believe this is an innovative and cost-effective solution to end preventable maternal and child deaths in India.

The Utkrisht bond is targeted to assist the State of Rajasthan, where 80,000 babies die annually from inadequate medical care. But proponents hope the model can be used throughout India, which accounts for 20 percent of maternal and child deaths globally.

The development impact bond was announced in November of 2017 by USAID Administrator Mark Green at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India. It is expected to provide 600,000 women with improved healthcare access and potentially save 10,000 moms and newborns.

The bond works as a public-private partnership. Investors grant providers of maternal care with upfront capital. Then, outcome funders pay back the investors their principal plus a return if pre-agreed metrics are achieved. The investor, in this case, is the UBS Optimus Foundation, which has committed about $3 million. The organization works with philanthropists to bring sustainable benefits to vulnerable children.

Up to 440 private health facilities will then be operated with assistance from Population Services International (PSI) and the Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust (HLFPPT), which also are co-investors providing 20 percent of the required capital. PSI is a global health nonprofit and the HLFPPT is an Indian nonprofit that works with maternal care.

In order to maximize success, private facilities are the focus of the Utkrisht bond. They host more than 25 percent of institutional deliveries in Rajasthan and are used by women of all socioeconomic backgrounds, yet little has been done to improve their quality of care.

USAID and Merck for Mothers, a nonprofit with the goal to end maternal mortality, have each committed up to $4.5 million that will be paid if the heath facilities meet accreditation standards. This is a highly cost-effective method to save lives according to World Health Organization standards, which is particularly exciting to USAID.

“The pay for success approach ensures appropriate stewardship of U.S. taxpayer dollars, while unlocking both private capital and government resources for health,” USAID states.

While this is the first development impact bond targeted toward health, the future of the Utkrisht bond looks promising. If it is successful, more initiatives can be implemented that involve private-public cooperation and effective use of taxpayer money to save the lives of many women and children around the world.

– Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr

most effective drug for preventing maternal death
Each year, more than 300,000 women die in childbirth. The top three causes of global maternal deaths are severe bleeding, infections and high blood pressure at the time of birth. Often, pregnant women in developing countries are faced with an impossible decision: seek affordable care from untrained/unlicensed midwives or enter hospitals without being able to pay for modern treatment. It is extremely unlikely that women in this situation will receive the most effective drug for preventing maternal death.

Deaths from infections can easily be prevented through good hygiene practices by the patient and the medical staff attending to her. As for high blood pressure, the most fundamental precautionary measure is to educate the public on adolescent pregnancies, as this is often associated with maternal mortality from high blood pressure. Severe bleeding in childbirth can kill a healthy woman within several hours if proper attention and care are not given to her by her caretakers.

Often there are complications, such as bleeding, that require costly surgical operations or blood transfusions. If the mother is unable to afford the operation, she may not survive the excessive bleeding. In Sierra Leone, many people know at least one woman who has either died in childbirth or lost a fetus due to complications. Maternal care is the comprehensive indicator of the overall development of a country; the healthcare system for maternal health reflects the level of education, infrastructure and transparency of a nation.

Well educated nations with high literacy rates can still experience a shortage of qualified medical workers. Why? They are not properly paid or paid at all. The few qualified or highly educated emigrate for better opportunities and salaries. This resulting brain drain further exacerbates the crisis of maternal mortality. Prior to childbirth, there is also a delay in pregnant women seeking proper treatment. This delay can be attributed to a lack of confidence in the competence of the local healthcare facilities.

Thanks to U.N. funding, clinics in every nation are sponsored to employ local medical staff, which not only provides them with a salary, but with training as well. In addition to improved services, many patients benefit the from donation and careful administration of drugs. Among the most notable is tranexamic acid. Also known as TXA, this drug helps to control bleeding for trauma patients. It helps to stabilize a clot at the site of bleeding by preventing it from dissolving during formation. It has proven to be the most effective drug for preventing maternal death.

TXA works by preventing the conversion of plasminogen to plasmin; this promotes the accumulation of fibrin to form a complex known as the fibrin degradation products. It should be noted that TXA is not an alternative for blood transfusion; it is merely an important addition to this treatment. In addition to trauma patients, TXA has also proven effective in treating combat casualties. It has also been proven to be safe for patients.

In April 2017, the WHO launched a clinical trial dubbed the World Maternal Antifibrinolytic Trial. It consisted of 20,000 women from 21 countries who were diagnosed with postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). It was a randomized, double-blind trial with placebos for some of the participants. The organization wanted to see if bleeding persisted 30 minutes after the first dosage, and if it restarted within 24 hours. If bleeding did persist, it determined if a second dose was necessary.

What they found was that TXA reduced deaths in the trial, and it was evident that early treatment maximized the benefit. It was the most effective drug for preventing maternal death. In their words, “safe, effective and affordable PPH treatments are critical to saving the lives of pregnant women globally, and the findings of this trial have important implications for the delivery of high-quality maternity care.”

– Awad Bin-Jawed

Photo: Flickr

Pediatric AIDSHIV/AIDS is embedded in social and economic inequity and there exists a critical connection between the disease and poverty. There is strong evidence that the disease affects individuals of lower socioeconomic status and impoverished nations at a disproportionately high rate. This is also true when examining the occurrence of mother-to-child transmission, which accounts for more than 90 percent of HIV infections in children.

S. Res. 310, according to U.S. Congress, is a “resolution that recognizes the importance of a continued commitment to ending pediatric AIDS worldwide.” This is of extreme importance because, not only do children suffer the most from HIV/AIDS because of their developing immune systems, but they also are the key to eradicating the disease and breaking the cycle of infection. Without diagnosis and treatment, one-third of infected infants will die before the age of one, one-half will die before their second birthday and 80 percent will die before their fifth birthday.

As a leading cause of death among adolescents, AIDS is devastating the lives and hopes of millions of children worldwide. Pediatric HIV-related deaths have more than tripled since 2000, requiring immediate attention and resolution.

S. Res. 310 recognizes that women and children are in desperate need of HIV-related services. Data from 2016 shows that half of the 36,700,000 people worldwide who suffer from HIV are women and 2,100,000 are children. Despite the increased efforts by the U.S. and countries around the world, over 400 children were born HIV-positive every day in 2016. This legislation highlights that continued commitment is required in order to eradicate pediatric AIDS.

The resolution allows the U.S. to provide women and children with HIV counseling and testing services and to improve access to services and medicines that prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The legislation also supports expanding treatment for pediatric and adolescent HIV, including greater access to more efficacious antiretroviral drug regimens, age-appropriate services and support for the caregivers of children and adolescents.

In the words of the resolution, “every mother should have the opportunity to fight for the life of her child; and every child and adolescent should have access to medicine to lead a long and healthy life.”

Jamie Enright

Photo: Flickr

Solutions to Contamination
The Maya Relief Foundation, a California-based charity, is providing thousands of Guatemalans with stoves and water filters, efficient and sustainable solutions to contamination, to over 100 communities in the region. While 95 percent of Guatemala’s water sources are contaminated, nearly 40 percent of their daily wood supply is used to boil water for drinking.

Nearly half of the world’s population uses fire to cook. The smoke from cooking kills nearly 2 million people each year. It is the fifth largest cause of death worldwide, and most of the victims are women and children, according to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

In Latin America, 166 million people cook over an open fire. An estimated 28,000 people died from smoke in 2012, nearly half were children under 5 years-old. In Asia, 2 billion people cook over an open fire. The smoke kills roughly 1.2 million each year, and 239,000 are children under 5 years-old. In sub-Saharan Africa, 609 million people cook over an open fire. The smoke killed 574,000 Africans in 2012.

Health hazards include acute respiratory infections, insufficient weight at birth and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Without significant policy changes or efficient and sustainable solutions to contamination, the reliance on solid fuels will remain roughly the same by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.

Dona Irma Xo uses an open fire stovetop to cook for her four children. The smoke contaminates the whole house, causing most of their sicknesses. It is painful for them to inhale – their eyes get watery, irritated and red. The Eko-stove only requires 50-60 pounds of wood per month, in contrast to the 200 pounds they needed prior.

In the dry season, Guatemalans walk long distances to get their water supply every day. At the local well, they pull up a rope with enough buckets of water for the day, hoping there will be water left for tomorrow.

The well’s water supply comes from small springs, according to local Guatemalan Maria Quej Pop. Sometimes dust, leaves and animals are found in the water. After drinking the well water, her children experience stomach pains and diarrhea. Now she uses the filter for cooking and drinking, which provides 10 gallons of filtered water each day.

It’s a simple, low-cost design made with local materials. The clay and sawdust are locally sourced, mixed with water and left to dry for roughly two weeks prior to a kiln firing. The Maya Foundation’s studies of over 100 families show a 55 percent decrease in gastrointestinal problems, especially among children.

The ceramic filtration system is being used in over 30 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Families can even cook 24 tortillas, or utilize multiple pots at once with the latest Eko-stove. These sufficient and sustainable solutions to contamination conserve time, wood and water with each system provided by The Maya Relief Foundation.

Rachel Williams

Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Bihar
Bihar is one of the poorest states in India as approximately 55 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. There is an overwhelming need for quality health care facilities and workers in this region. In the past ten years, the World Bank Group and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have made great strides toward the improvement of healthcare in Bihar.

The World Bank’s collaboration with the Bihar Government led to an increase in the accountability and accessibility of healthcare from 2005 to 2008. By 2008, the number of outpatients visiting a government hospital grew from 39 per month to almost 4,500. The number of babies delivered in healthcare facilities also increased from some 100,000 to 780,000.

Bihar’s infant and maternal mortality rates are higher than India’s national average. According to the Sample Registration Survey in India conducted in 2013, 208 women per 100,000 died during childbirth. Furthermore, 28 out of every 1,000 newborns die within their first month of life.

Most of these deaths are preventable if basic care is provided to women and newborns during and immediately following childbirth. Unfortunately, the infrastructure of healthcare in Bihar falls short in nearly all required categories, including the number of health assistants and nurses.

According to the Huffington Post, there are not enough nurses in Bihar to allow for lengthy off-site training to prepare nurses for treatment of postpartum hemorrhage or premature births while also keeping health facilities adequately staffed.

In order to improve maternal health and newborn care, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with the Bihar Government launched a Mobile Nurse Mentoring Program called AMANAT.

Through AMANAT, nurses in public health facilities are mentored on-site by mobile nurse mentors, who ensure that basic standards of care are provided for pregnant women and newborns.

The program has greatly improved healthcare in Bihar for women and children before and after deliveries since its implementation in 2012. A few of these improvements include:

  • The administration of the correct use of oxytocin to induce labor has increased from 9 percent to 59 percent.
  • The use of sterile instruments by nurses during deliveries has increased from 13 percent to 43 percent.
  • The implementation of mothers breastfeeding has increased from 49 percent to 72 percent.

The number of stillbirths declined from 19 to 12 per 1,000 live births due to improvements in basic care practices. AMANAT was implemented in 160 public health facilities across Bihar and is expected to be administered in 240 over the course of this year.

There is a long way to go in creating a stable system of healthcare in Bihar. However, these crucial improvements made by the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bihar’s Government have saved and will continue to save countless maternal and newborn lives.

Kristyn Rohrer

Photo: World Bank

Causes of Human Trafficking
Likened to modern slavery, human trafficking is driven mostly by similar motivations to those of slavery. The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as the “illegal trade of humans for exploitation or commercial gain.” Exploitation frequently involves forcing victims into prostitution or slavery. Human trafficking can be separated into sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Though they have different purposes, there are general trends that explain the overall root causes of human trafficking.

According to a 2012 International Labour Organization (ILO) report, 21 million people are victims of forced labor. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest number of forced laborers in the world with 11.7 million victims (56 percent of the global total), followed by Africa with 3.7 million (18 percent) and Latin America with 1.8 million victims (nine percent).

According to the Huffington Post, approximately 75 to 80 percent of human trafficking and slavery is for sex. The rest are forced into labor exploitation, such as agriculture and construction work. In 2015, 5,544 cases of human trafficking were reported, as stated in a study by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

Top 5 Causes of Human Trafficking

  1. Poverty, war, natural disasters and a search for a better life. Traffickers look for people who are susceptible to coercion into the human trafficking industry. Those people tend to be migrants, fleeing their homes either because of economic hardship, natural disasters, conflict or political instability. The displacement of populations increases individuals’ emotional vulnerability, and frequently they do not have the financial support to protect themselves. This makes them subject to abuse through trafficking.
  2. Women and children are targets. In some societies, the devaluation of women and children make them far more vulnerable to trafficking than men. Traditional attitudes and practices, early marriage and lack of birth registration further increase the susceptibility of women and children. They are also targeted because of the demand for women in sex trafficking. A report by Equality Now states that 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor. Women and girls make up 98 percent of the victims trafficked for sexual exploitation.
  3. Demand for cheap labor. The service industry, particularly restaurants and kitchens, are common exploiters of human trafficking. There is also a demand for cheap domestic and agricultural labor. Employees are often initially promised a safe work space and a steady salary, only to later find that they are paid less than minimum wage and worked over time. Business owners guilty of this behavior continue to practice these illegal norms because the victims of trafficking can rarely protect themselves and they have very few alternatives.
  4. Human trafficking generates a huge profit. According to the ILO, the human trafficking industry generates a profit of $150 billion per year. Two-thirds is made from commercial sexual exploitation, while the remainder comes from forced economic exploitation such as domestic work and agriculture. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing and second-largest criminal industry in the world, after drug trafficking.
  5. Cases of human trafficking are difficult to identify. Some challenges in identifying victims of human trafficking arise because victims are well-hidden or highly traumatized. Those that are traumatized are unlikely to divulge information to investigators, either because they are scared to confront law enforcement, or because they are too troubled to respond. Consumers of human trafficking also contribute to the crime’s hidden nature, according to a report by the Urban Institute. Both traffickers and consumers are aware of the huge risk they take by participating in this illegal behavior and will do their best to cover up any illicit activity.

Initiatives to diminish these causes of human trafficking include international cooperation agreements, national policies against trafficking, improved immigration policies that can detect the exit or entry of humans being illegally trafficked, and increased infrastructure to protect those that are being exploited for labor or sex.

Michelle Simon

Sources: The Atlantic, US State Department, Urban Institute, International Labour Organization, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, UNICEF, National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Huffington Post, The Department of Homeland Security, Equality Now
Photo: Flickr

Maternal_and_Child_HealthDuring the 2015 Call To Action Summit, health ministers and global experts take a look at the progress that has been made. USAID has helped save the lives of an estimated 2.5 million children and nearly 200,000 mothers since 2008.

It has been a little over a year, in June 2014, since USAID introduced its newest strategic plan for maternal and child health. They hope to prevent the deaths of 15 million children and 600,000 mothers by 2020.

At the summit the participants reviewed the impact the USAID’s support has had all around the world; often putting a name and a face to those benefitting from the aid provided.

In India, mothers like Satyawati now know how to best take care of their newborns and other children thanks to the ability to obtain health-related knowledge and help from a local health worker.

Because Satyawati has access to this information, she has had her children properly vaccinated and employs proper hygiene practices in her home. In 1990 in India, children under the age of five had a mortality rate of 126 per 1,000 live births but in 2013 that number has been reduced to 53 per 1,000 live births.

Also, thanks to the support of the USAID, 27 hospitals in Malawi now have a device called a Pumani bCPAP that helps newborns with underdeveloped lungs breathe until they can do so own their own.

This device has tripled the survival rate of babies like Gloria Mtawila’s son Joshua, who stayed on the machine for a month until he could breathe on his own and is now a completely healthy baby.

All across the world bundles of joy are being born to tired but radiant mothers. Hospital staff assures that both have the best possible care in these first crucial hours, days and sometimes weeks after childbirth.

But also all across the world there are mothers on makeshift cots or laying on dirt floors. They and their babies do not have dedicated hospital staff looking after them.

Mom did not have access to prenatal vitamins and baby may not have access to life-saving vaccines. With poor living conditions, poor pre and post-birth care, and a poor quality of life all around, mom and her little one may not make it.

This is what USAID is working to prevent. USAID’s maternal and child health programs focus on cost-effective initiatives such as enabling access to nutritional supplements and vaccines.

The USAID has achieved great success. Maternal death rates have decreased by five percent in each of its 24 target countries while child mortality rates went down by four percent.

But this is still not enough. The USAID hopes to receive $850 million in funding for the maternal and child health program in order “to reduce child mortality to 20 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births in every country by 2035, and to end preventable maternal deaths” (interaction.org).

Through this initiative, the USAID has inspired developing countries to develop strategies to reach these goals, and make the eradication of unnecessary maternal and child deaths possible.

Drusilla Gibbs

Sources: USIAD, Interaction, Call to Action
Photo: Google Images