Matching Maternal Child Health Interventions with Need
By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President
Poor maternal, newborn and child health care remain a significant problem in low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that worldwide, 250,000–280,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth every year and an estimated 6.55 million children die under the age of five each year. The causes, although mostly preventable, are varied and careful consideration must be given to ensure that interventions address the need.
Clean Birthing Kits
In medically underserved communities, many births occur outside of a healthcare facility. Women who don’t have access to traditional care at birth are at much higher risk for preventable infections and birthing complications that put both mom and baby at risk. That is why MedShare provides Clean Birthing Kits as a part of our Maternal & Child Health Program. The kits contain simple, but essential supplies that can protect a pregnant mother and her newborn from preventable illnesses. MedShare equips women’s health facilities, maternity wards, and midwifery teams with Clean Birthing Kits that save lives. Since 2017, MedShare has donated over 36,500 Clean Birthing Kits to marginalized communities.
Project Peanut Butter is a group of community health workers who serve children and families in Sub-Saharan Africa. As they treated women and babies in rural communities, they noticed the great need for birthing supplies and care to be brought to mothers without the means to travel to healthcare facilities. When they received Clean Birthing Kits from MedShare, they were thrilled. Elizabeth Cimo explained the impact that the kits had on her patients, “Giving birth in Sierra Leone is a daunting task. Most mothers walk miles to arrive at a community health facility where very basic care is provided. These health facilities are often grossly understaffed and often lack essential medications, supplies and equipment. The birthing kits are a godsend to most of these women.”
Thanks to the generosity, hard work, and compassion of MedShare’s community and relief partners, healthy babies are being born in Sierra Leone.
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) is a partnership with Coca-Cola Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health and MedShare, that aims to tackle the high rate of maternal and newborn deaths in Nigeria. 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.
One of the recipient hospitals of SBI is Ebute-Metta hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. Pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Nnenna Kalu of the Federal Medical Center Ebute Metta, is scanning an infant suffering from cardiovascular complications using a recently donated ultrasound machine. This is the only ultrasound machine for pediatric cardiac diagnostics in the hospital. Prior to this donation being received, infants with cardiac complications were rushed to other hospitals, while some infants were not referred in time and succumbed to their condition. Because of this precarious situation the donated iU22 Philips ultrasound machine was airfreighted from MedShare’s distribution center in Atlanta to the door of the Federal Medical Center Ebute Metta in Nigeria.
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, thereby reducing maternal and newborn mortality. It Is essential that that health care professionals have the tools required to ensure a safe birthing process for both mom and child.