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Celebrate Solutions: Driving Change and Saving Lives in India

By: Lauren Himiak, Women Deliver

Imagine waking in the middle of the night choking, unable to breathe, scared, and unsure what to do. One’s first response may be to call for an ambulance, but what if none were available? This was the case in 2004 for Shaffi Mather whose mother awoke to this terrifying situation in India. Unsure of what to do, Mather’s family drover her to the hospital themselves. Just a few days later, a similar situation happened to Ravi Krishna, but in New York where a 911 ambulance was on the scene within minutes. Seeing firsthand such a stark contrast of availability and accessibility of standardized emergency medical services (EMS), Mather and Krishna decided to act. Read more...

Why Are Women and Children Still Dying?

By: Dr. Denise Raquel Dunning, Founder and Executive Director, Let Girls Lead, Champions for Change, and Youth Champions Initiative; Originally posted by

Nigeria, one of the richest countries in Africa, also boasts one of the world’s highest rates of maternal, newborn, and child death.  One in 13 Nigerian women dies during pregnancy or childbirth, and one in 8 Nigerian children dies before their fifth birthday.

And Nigeria is not alone. The global realities are equally devastating – nearly three million newborn babies die annually, and 800 women die in childbirth every single day. That means that two women will die by the time you finish reading this article – assuming you read fast. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Building Relationships, Accelerating Action

By: Whitney Sogol, Women Deliver

Over the past decade the global health community has seen a proliferation of MNCH innovations. Research on the efficacy of these innovations has not kept pace. Similarly, traditional business models have failed when it comes to making MNCH innovations affordable and accessible to those with the least resources and greatest need. Under these unfavorable conditions, innovators struggle to secure funding for untested MNCH products or programs that promise minimal, if any, profit. Scarce resources and capacity forces innovators to abandon their work at early stages even as women and children continue to suffer or die. Read more...

Disrespect and Abuse During Maternity Care Keep Women from Seeking Facility Births

By: Koki Agarwal, Director, MCHIP and forward by Katie Millar, Technical Writer, MHTF

This post is part of the Maternal and Newborn Integration Blog Series, which shares themes of and reactions to the “Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health: In Pursuit of Quality” technical meeting.

Forward: In the following post, Dr. Agarwal speaks of an unfortunately common problem between health workers and mothers: disrespect and abuse. This problem and its solution—respectful maternity care—play a role not only in health outcomes for the mother, but for the baby as well. At the Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health technical meeting, Rima Jolivet and Jeff Smith reviewed research that showed emotional support during labor significantly decreases:

  • The need for pain medication during labor
  • The rate of prolonged labor, labor complications, episiotomies, caesarean sections, low apgar scores, lack of exclusive breastfeeding, and severe postpartum depression
  • The risk of newborn sepsis

Celebrate Solutions: Government Initiative Improves Abortion and Post-Abortion Care in Ghana

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Although Ghana has one of the most progressive abortion laws in sub-Saharan Africa, mortality from unsafe abortion is still a problem. The 2010 maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Ghana was 350 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to an average MMR of 240 in the developing world. One of the largest contributors to maternal deaths are complications from unsafe abortions. The 2007 Ghana Maternal Health Survey estimates that approximately 40% of abortions are performed by untrained providers. Evidence also suggests that many health care providers are not aware of the abortion law. Others may feel that performing an abortion conflicts with their religious beliefs. This lack of knowledge, along with social stigma that surrounds women seeking an abortion, drives the practice underground, resulting in clandestine procedures that are often performed by untrained providers or attempts at a self-induced abortion. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: How Niger’s Traditional Leaders are Promoting Maternal Health

By: Joan Erakit; Originally posted by Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency

BANDE, Niger, Sep 11 2014 (IPS) - It is a long, 14-hour drive from Niger’s capital city Niamey to the village of Bande. And the ride is a dreary one as the roadside is bare. The occasional, lone goat herder is spotted every few kilometres and the sightings become a cause of both confusion and excitement since there aren’t any trees, or watering holes in sight. Read more...

Copenhagen Announced as the Official Location of the Women Deliver 2016 Global Conference

Denmark highlights commitment to girls and women with conference announcement and launch of a new gender framework

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 18 August 2014 – Today, with 500 days left until the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline, advocacy organization Women Deliver and the Danish Minister for Trade and Development Corporation, Mogens Jensen, announced that the next Women Deliver global conference  will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May 2016. The announcement was made at the Invest in Girls and Women – Everybody Wins event held at the Danish Parliament, where Denmark’s new Strategic Framework for Gender Equality, Rights and Diversity was also launched.

“We are beyond thrilled that the Women Deliver 2016 Conference will be in Copenhagen,” said Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield. “The Danish government has played a key role in advancing girls’ and women’s health and rights and, with its support, this conference could catapult these issues to the forefront of the global development agenda and unify advocates from all around the world around one simple ask: Invest in girls and women – it pays.” Read more...

Dreaming of a World without Maternal Deaths

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Numfor Alenwi Munteh, Cameroon Agenda for Sustainable Development (CASD)

I dream of a world where every woman can consciously plan and space her pregnancies, and each baby is delivered safely and in good health. However, the reality in many developing countries plays more like a nightmare.

In my home country of Cameroon, nearly 14 percent of deaths among women of reproductive age are due to maternal causes, compared to 1.5 percent in the United States and 0.5 percent in Switzerland. Globally, almost 800 women die every day due to preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Ending maternal deaths will not be easy, but I’ve made it my mission to conquer this challenge. Read more...

Q&A Interview with Influential Jamaican Midwife Victoria Melhado

Originally posted by the Maternal Health Task Force

This post is part of our “Supporting the Human in Human Resources” blog series co-hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force and Jacaranda Health.

Katja Iversen is the CEO of Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization that brings together diverse voices and interests to share solutions and drive progress in maternal and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women Deliver builds capacity and forges partnerships – together creating networks, messages and action that spark political commitment and investment in the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women.

Victoria Melhado is a Jamaican advocate, midwife, and one of Women Deliver’s Young Leaders. Victoria is an active member of several committees, including the Nurses Association of Jamaica, and is the youngest winner of the prestigious National Nurse of the Year award. Ms. Melhado is also a member of the National Youth Month Planning Committee and is the author of ‘Be Inspired!’, a book of inspirational poems. Read more...

All Babies Are Equal – Helping HIV-Positive Mothers Deliver Healthy Babies

By: Svetha Janumpalli, Founder & CEO at New Incentives

New Incentives was a winner of the Women Deliver Social Enterprise Challenge held at the Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in May 2013.

A year ago, I was invited to represent New Incentives in Malaysia for the Women Deliver Conference. At the time, I had been running New Incentives for two years, giving cash transfers for everything from increasing attendance for young females in rural India to reducing HIV transmission in West African villages. The concept was simple: poor people lack money and decisions like not sending their daughters to school is born more out of economics than a lack of understanding of the value. In the last year since winning the Women Deliver Conference, we have grown from a young startup that was still looking for a focus, to helping mothers with HIV give birth to healthy babies. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Midwives Changing Lives of Women and Communities of Myanmar

By: Rehema Namukose, Women Deliver

When a community has access to trained midwives, the health of women and their children will improve, creating healthier families and communities. However, 70 percent of Myanmar’s population that live in rural areas barely have access to basic health education and information about maternal and child health care services. Many have no knowledge about basic reproductive health services like birth spacing, pre-and post natal care, and safe delivery services, all of which  can be provided by a skilled midwife.

The country’s health care system was ranked the second worst in the world by WHO in 2000, and that is why the government has been working ever since with many partners, including global civil society organizations, to make access to health care services a reality for all. A project intervention by Marie Stopes International Myanmar (MSIM) and Myanmar Nurse and Midwife Association (MNMA) is training young midwifery professionals known as Volunteer Midwives (VMWs) and placing them in villages in urgent need of health care services in the Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon regions of Myanmar. Read more...

Studies in Family Planning Publishes Special Issue on Unmet Need

June Issue Explores Challenges in Addressing Unmet Need for Contraception, Featuring Research and Case Studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America

NEW YORK, NY (16 June 2014) — Studies in Family Planning, a leading journal published by the Population Council, released “Unmet Need for Family Planning”—a special issue featuring ten articles, including a comprehensive introduction to the topic of unmet need. Distinguished researchers explore trends related to unmet need for contraception, and many articles point to practical strategies for increasing contraceptive knowledge and uptake, and for overcoming barriers that prevent women from practicing contraception.

“Unmet need has been an important indicator for measuring the progress of family planning programs for more than 25 years,” said John Bongaarts, vice president and Distinguished Scholar at the Population Council. “This issue features work from some of the leading minds in family planning. It explores trends, identifies issues, and proposes solutions to ensure that sexual and reproductive health programs and policies are structured to meet the changing needs of women and men over the course of their reproductive lives.” Read more...

Q&A with Katja Iversen About Her Vision for the Future

In this Q&A, Women Deliver’s new CEO Katja Iversen shares her motivations for becoming an advocate for girls’ and women’s health and rights; discusses lessons she has learned in her career; offers advice for emerging advocates; and describes her vision for the future for girls and women around the world.

Q: What first inspired you to become a maternal and reproductive health advocate?

I’m proud to say it was my grandmother. Back in the 1930s she – in her own quiet and behind-the-scenes way – fought fiercely for girls’ and women’s reproductive rights in Denmark, where I am from. At the time, only married women could get access to modern contraceptives.  She and my granddad lived together without being married, and she worked seven days a week to get him through college, so getting pregnant just wasn’t an option. Even when she got married and had kids, she kept up the fight for all women’s reproductive rights – because it was just the right thing to do. Read more...

Canadian Government Pledges $3.5 Billion to Maternal & Child Health

Global leaders convened on May 28th-30th at the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit in Toronto, Canada, where the Canadian government committed $ 3.5 billion from 2015 - 2020 to improve the maternal and child health conditions in low-income countries. The next stage of funding will place an increased focus on interventions during the first month of a newborn’s life, on boosting efforts on immunization and improving civil registration and the collection of vital statistics, according to a press release from the Prime Minister’s office.

This funding comes at a time when 289,000 women still die annually from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes despite progress made in the past decades. Following the launch of the Muskoka Initiative at the 2010 G8 Summit, the Canadian government has been a leader on these issues over the last years, and the new commitment shows their continued resolve to be at the forefront of global efforts to improve maternal and newborn health in the developing world. Read more..

Celebrate Solutions: The ABC’s of Basic Integrated Health Care in Nigeria

By: Lindsay Menard Freeman, Women Deliver

Affordable, universal, and high-quality health care saves lives, saves time, and saves money. The Access to Basic Medical Care (ABC) program in Oyo State, Nigeria ensures free healthcare for residents from any of the 33 Local Government Councils of Oyo State. Every resident has a fundamental right to high quality and effective healthcare, and the ABC program is designed to extend basic healthcare solutions to the masses. Read more...

New State of the World’s Mother Report Shows Where Mothers are Dying, How They Can be Thriving

Every day, 800 women and 18,000 young children die from mostly preventable causes, and more than half of these deaths take place in high-risk areas of conflict and natural disaster, according to Save the Children’s new State of the World’s Mothers Report. This annual ranking of the health and well-being of mothers and children worldwide focuses on the impact of humanitarian crisis on maternal, newborn, and child health, and lists the best and worst places to be a mother. Read more...

45 Percent Fewer Women Die Giving Life—More Would Survive If They Counted

Women Deliver welcomes two new studies that highlight reductions in maternal mortality and the causes behind those deaths, but calls for further improvements in overall data collection for girls and women

6 May 2014 – The number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has declined by 45 percent, from 523,000 in 1990 to an estimated 289,000 in 2013, according to a new study, Trends in Maternal Mortality Estimates 1990-2013, released today by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), The World Bank and the United Nations Population Division.

The progress is noteworthy, but the decline is less than what is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent between 1990 and 2015. Read more...

Women Deliver CEO Katja Iversen Speaks at Launch of Danish Maternal Health Campaign

Last week, Women Deliver’s CEO Katja Iversen was a featured speaker, along with Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and the Minister of Trade and Development, Mogens Jensen, at the launch of the Maternity Foundation’s “Save a Life on Mother’s Day” annual campaign. The event took place in Copenhagen and also included remarks from  MSD Country Director, Anita Bruhin; Director of the Maternity Foundation, Anna Frellsen; and actress Ellen Hillingsø. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Scoring Big for Mothers and Babies in Malawi

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

Malawi has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with one in 36 pregnant women dying from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Many of these women die from hemorrhage, one of the leading causes of maternal death worldwide. An increase in blood supply, especially at rural health clinics, has the potential to save the life of a mother experiencing hemorrhaging. In an innovative push to save lives, the Silver Strikers Football Club partnered with MamaYe Malawi and Malawi Blood Transfusion Services (MBTS) earlier this month to organize a football match and blood drive to raise awareness and to collect 59 units of blood for health clinics.

Making Life Saving Commodities Available in Nigeria: the Sokoto State story

By: Mu’azu Muhammad, Women Deliver 100 Young Leader

“Every year, millions of women and children die from preventable causes.These are not mere statistics. They are people with names and faces.” – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The above statement by Ban Ki-moon resonates with me, because the situation in Nigeria is the same. Each year, approximately one million Nigerian children die from preventable illnesses before their fifth birthday. And for every 100,000 live births, there are 1,549 women who will die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. The especially dire mortality rates come from the northeastern and northwestern regions of the country where Bauchi and Sokoto States are located. Both states face huge challenges bringing health care services to their people. Read more...

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