How vouchers for motorbikes helped reduce maternal mortality by 44% in three Ugandan districts.

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In 2012, Every Mother Counts (EMC) became a founding partner of a promising 5-year public-private partnership called the Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) initiative.

The goal was ambitious: to cut maternal deaths in half in eight districts in Uganda and Zambia where maternal mortality ratios were alarmingly high (452 per 100K in Uganda, and 370 per 100K in Zambia). Our partners included the Ugandan, Zambian, and United States governments, as well as nine other government and non-government organizations.

SMGL’s systems approach was comprehensive. It included investments in health facility infrastructure, extensive health worker training, improvements to supply chain procurement of medicines and equipment, community education and awareness-raising, and, where possible, investments in ambulances and transport systems.

These combined efforts, we hoped, would help reduce maternal mortality and ensure more mothers not only survived, but thrived, after giving birth.

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At Every Mother Counts, we decided to focus on the issue of transportation and access to care for rural mothers.

We chose to invest in three rural districts–Kabarole, Kyenjojo, and Kamwenge–in Uganda. The SMGL partner Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation Uganda was chosen to manage the program. …

By Martine Jean-Baptiste, Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Haitian Midwives

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(Photos by FAHM)

According to the 2017 Demographic Health Surveys (DHS), approximately 23.5% of women in Haiti reported sexual and physical violence committed by a partner. Many experts feel that the statistics about gender-based violence in Haiti are even greater than the numbers reported by DHS. Haiti, like many other developing countries, has structural socio-economic inequalities and barriers that implicitly enable gender-based violence (GBV).

The unsafe living conditions in the temporary displacement camps set up after the horrific 2010 earthquake are major contributors to the increase in violence against girls and women. After the earthquake, many non- governmental organizations (NGOs) “set up house” in Haiti to provide services to victims. Despite some progress in assistance and resources that were organized to fight violence against women following the earthquake, conditions have deteriorated for women during the months prior to June 2015. …

Following the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia two weeks ago, Every Mother Counts put out a call to raise funds for our longtime partner in Indonesia, Bumi Sehat, with an offer to match up to $10,000 in donations. Thanks to the incredible generosity of 64 people, we raised $8,940.15. On Friday we wired $20,000 to Bumi Sehat. We will donate any additional funds collected for relief in Indonesia, so please consider donating today.

Here is an update from Robin Lim, Founder of Bumi Sehat, who traveled to Sulawesi as a first responder to help mothers and families in desperate need of water, food, and basic medical care.

By Tara Mulder, Grace Community Birth Center

Today, International Day of the Girl, complications from pregnancy remain the leading killer of girls ages 15–19. In Haiti, about 14% of girls this age are already pregnant or have children. Many girls experience violence and sexual abuse: about 70% of girls and women have been exposed to some sort of violence.

At Grace Community Birth Center in Grand Bassin, Terrier Rouge, in northeast Haiti, midwife Ninotte Lubin works with adolescent girls and young women, teaching them about their bodies through comprehensive sex education, organizing crafting workshops, and distributing cloth menstrual kits in coordination with Days for Girls. …

By the Perinatal Mental Health Project

Common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, that occur during pregnancy and in the year after child birth are highly prevalent globally. In developing countries, the rates are much higher than in high income settings. Women and girls who live in poverty and who experience violence are particularly vulnerable. In South Africa, about 1 in 3 women will experience depression or anxiety during or after their pregnancy.

Poor maternal mental health not only has adverse effects on mothers, but may negatively impact their children. Mental health problems in mothers is linked to maternal and infant mortality. Poor maternal mental health jeopardises the development of the foetus resulting in premature births and low birth weight infants. Social, behavioural and emotional development of children is also affected by the mental health of the mother. Many of these effects may be buffered by the presence of another supportive and well adult caregiver for the child. …

By Jessica Bowers, Grants Program Director

As the Grants Program Director for Every Mother Counts, I love going into the field and seeing firsthand the work that we are supporting, as well as learning what other organizations and people are doing around women’s health in the country. …

Following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia, and the resulting tsunami and aftershocks, our longtime partner Bumi Sehat is working with local midwives to establish safe birthing tents and buy solar lights, water filters, & medical supplies.

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Photo from Bumi Sehat

Last week a massive 7.5 magnitude earthquake shook the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia and surrounding regions. The ensuing tsunami and numerous aftershocks have contributed to wiping out entire villages and towns in Indonesia. Over 1,230 people are confirmed dead, with the death toll expected to rise.

Our friends at Bumi Sehat in Bali, Indonesia have endured a number of natural disasters, and are often some of the first to show up to offer assistance. The ongoing challenges associated with climate change mean that these disasters show no signs of future decline. In the meantime, people are desperate for food, water, and shelter, and so many women are homeless and pregnant, also in need of food water, basic supplies, and health care. …

By: Dr. Jesanna Cooper, Simon Williamson Clinic Obstetrics and Gynecology

For over 40 years, it has been illegal for Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) to deliver babies in Alabama. In the midst of a maternal health crisis in which Alabama has some of the worst maternal health outcomes in the country, Alabama is now poised to begin licensing midwives and stop criminalizing their work. We asked a couple of our friends in Alabama to share their thoughts:

Dr. Cooper’s story:

I am a physician who loves midwives. Midwives were kind to me during the dark days of residency training. They supported and comforted me on the journey to physician-hood just as they nurtured other women on their pregnancy and childbirth journeys. My midwife colleagues now support me with understanding and validation, often picking me up and setting me squarely back on my path. It’s what good midwives do. The midwifery model of care is both empowering and compassionate. It is low cost and high touch. This model is the solution to Alabama’s current maternity care crisis — if we have the political and financial will to support it. …

By: Melissa Gradilla

Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) have announced groundbreaking new legislation to improve health outcomes, access to care, and health equity for women and infants in the United States. …

By Paige Bellenbaum, LMSW

In the past five years there has been a flurry of attention given to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) otherwise referred to as postpartum depression. …


Every Mother Counts

A 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere.

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