By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines maternal health as the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period. Inadequate maternal, newborn and child health care remain a significant problem in low- and middle-income countries. The WHO estimates that worldwide, 295,000–300,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth every year and an estimated 5 million children die under the age of five each year.
The most common direct causes of maternal injury and death are excessive blood loss, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, and obstructed labor, as well as indirect causes such as anemia, malaria, and heart disease. Most maternal deaths are preventable with timely management by a skilled health professional working in a supportive environment with the right supplies and equipment to ensure successful outcomes.
MedShare focuses its Maternal & Child Health Program on helping to reduce preventable maternal deaths and ensure that simply surviving pregnancy and childbirth can never be the marker of successful maternal health care. To that end, MedShare continues to collaborate with key partners to provide several targeted Initiatives to promote maternal and child health and well-being.
CLEAN BIRTHING KITS
In medically underserved communities, many births occur outside of a healthcare facility. And since women who do not have access to traditional care at birth are at much higher risk for preventable infections and birthing complications, both mom and baby are at risk. To mitigate the risk, MedShare provides Clean Birthing Kits as a part of our Maternal & Child Health Program. Each kit contains 12 simple, but essential supplies that can help protect a pregnant mother and her newborn from preventable illnesses. Since 2017, MedShare has donated 51,570 Clean Birthing Kits to women’s health facilities, maternity wards, and midwifery teams in marginalized communities across 58 counties and territories.
For example, MedShare collaborates with Nomads Clinic to provide medical care for rural communities in Nepal, including the provision of Clean Birthing Kits. The effort put forth by the women of Dolpo to make childbirth comparatively safe is overwhelming. All deliveries take place at home. The family must assemble everything from the mattress to clean scissors to water and wrapping clothes. The other women of the family assisting must wash piles of blankets and mattresses in the freezing water that are used during the childbirth, as they rarely have access to leak-proof plastic drapes.
Inaccessibility to clean delivery supplies not only increases the workload on the family, but also endangers the life of the mother and her newborn child. The small kits, which include a plastic drape, towel, cord cutting sterile razor, thread for cord tie, baby wraps, soap for hand washing, and gloves were so well received by the pregnant mothers of the region that those who attended the clinic encouraged others in the village to visit the clinic even if only to get a kit.
The birth kit includes detailed education on birth preparedness, danger signs that require the mother to be taken to well-equipped health service centers, and instructions around the utilization of each item in the kit. This increases the potential of a clean, safe delivery, helping to save the lives of both mother and child.
“We are so grateful to MedShare for helping us to bring this beautiful gift to the pregnant women of Dolpo and for allowing us to help them in making every delivery safer, beautiful, and easier.” – Nurse Tsering Wangmo, Medical Director of Nomads Clinic, via Dr. Charlie McDonald
SAFE BIRTH INITIATIVE
Each day, 145 Nigerian women die from complications related to pregnancy and 2,300 Nigerian children are lost due to preventable causes. The Safe Birth initiative (SBI), a partnership with Coca-Cola Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health and MedShare, aims to tackle the high rate of maternal and newborn deaths in Nigeria. The SBI is focused on supporting health care professionals to achieve successful birth outcomes by strengthening the capacity of 15 target public hospitals in three critical areas – 1) the procurement of vital maternal and neonatal medical equipment & supplies to enable safe deliveries and post-delivery emergency care; 2) training biomedical engineering technicians to improve equipment maintenance and uptime; and 3) reactivating a large stock of abandoned medical equipment wasting away in public hospitals. The Safe Birth Initiative is expected to ultimately improve the affordability and accessibility of maternity health care services in the recipient hospitals.
MedShare’ s latest work in support of this initiative was at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) in Kano State, Nigeria. Kano has a population of over 20 million people, serves more than 5 neighboring states, and includes a border with Niger. These communities all leverage the AKTH as its referral center for complicated medical cases.
AKTH is the 7th recipient hospital to have participated in the SBI program, have all equipment fully installed, and over 45 biomedical engineers and end-users trained.
The SBI was designed as a replicable model, and is currently being implemented in Cote d’Ivoire, where there are similar needs.
“Thank you once again to MedShare for this great partnership.” – Nwamaka I. Onyemelukwe, Director of Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited
MedShare continues our efforts to improve access to quality healthcare for mothers and children in medically under-served communities, both in the United States and internationally — ensuring that expectant mothers and health care professionals have the tools required to ensure a safe birthing process for both mother and child.