Celebrate Solutions: How an App is Changing the Lives of Mothers & Newborns in Africa

By: Brittany Tatum, Women Deliver

Imagine you are birth attendant in a remote clinic in Africa. While helping a mother give birth, she begins to bleed - what do you do? You may not have clean, running water, or even electricity. You do, however, have a mobile phone. What does this mean for you and for the safety of the mother and the newborn? It means that you have access to mobile health interventions, such as The Safe Delivery App. Read More...

Celebrate Solutions: Engaging Men in Family Planning Decision-Making

By: Shalmali Radha Karnad and Claire Watt Rothschild, Jacaranda Health

On any given morning, the seats in the reception at Jacaranda Health’s Kahawa West maternity hospital are full – young mothers nursing newborns, pregnant women thumbing through antenatal care brochures, toddlers clambering over benches as they await their immunisations, and men – husbands, partners, fathers – all attending the maternity to support and care for their wives and children. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Creating a “One-Stop Shop” to Encourage Postpartum Contraception

By: Claire Watt Rothschild, Jacaranda Health

Everyone said she could not become pregnant while breastfeeding. This is what Wanjiru*, a new mother, told a nurse midwife at Jacaranda Health’s Ruiru maternity hospital.  When she became pregnant just 3 months after the birth of her first baby, she felt lied to. Family planning use in the first year after childbirth – known as the postpartum period – is both essential and rare in Kenya. At Jacaranda Health, the aim is to make family planning acceptable and convenient for new mothers and their families in a setting where 90 percent of women are not using postpartum family planning at all or until after they are already at risk of pregnancy. Read more...

Striving for a Better Tomorrow on International Day of the Midwife

By: Brittany Tatum, Women Deliver  

May 5 of each year marks International Day of the Midwife (IDM) in which we celebrate the progress that has been made towards the vision to reduce all preventable maternal and newborn deaths. Read more...

Making Childbirth Safer: It Takes a Sales Force

Originally posted by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

"The mother and her newborn are safe in my hands!” Ishrawati, a birth attendant at a remote health center in northern India, is feeling confident, and in many ways that’s surprising.

Like millions of mostly female health workers delivering babies in the world’s poorest communities, Ishrawati works under conditions of chronic scarcity. No heating in her facility during freezing winters; no air conditioning in the sweltering summers. No running water in the delivery room much of the time. Outmoded equipment and regular stock outs of medicines. Severe understaffing combined with patchy supervision. Read more...

Bloomberg Showcases Devastating Maternal Care in India

A heartbreaking story in today’s news highlights the devastating impact of India’s poor treatment of women, especially as they prepare for childbirth. Emphasizing the abysmal care for one young mother, the story reinforces the international affront of the November expose of women who were giving forced sterilizations. This time, however, the story is even more telling, as bribery, corruption and heartless care impact the ultimate and sadly predictable poor outcome for both mother and child.

Women Deliver’s CEO, Katja Iverson says, “Losing a woman due to complications in pregnancy or childbirth is a tragedy. Every time. Whether in India or in any country of the world, it is a loss for families, as well as nations. re India, focusing on social accountability programs as a way to improve the quality of maternal care and a mechanism for more effective policy implementation. Read more...

Statement from the Independent Expert Review Group on World Prematurity Day

Originally posted by the World Health Organization

Geneva, November 17—Preterm birth is the largest single cause of death among children under-5. And yet this largely preventable cause of childhood mortality is almost entirely ignored by the international community. This scandal of inaction must end. 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...

New Study Shows Effects of Health and Nutrition on Fetal Growth and Newborn Size

A new study by the INTERGROWTH-21st Project proves that the health and nutritional status of an expecting woman, and not their race or ethnicity, influences fetal growth and newborn size. This challenges earlier misconceptions that a baby’s country of birth or their race influences their growth and development.

The study reveals that the educational background, type of nutrition, environmental effects, and the health care an expecting woman receives shape fetal grown and newborn size.  Results from the study indicated that babies born to healthy mothers are surprisingly similar worldwide.

The study also shows that the fetal growth and birth length are similar when babies are born to well-nourished, well-educated mothers, despite their diverse ethnic and genetic backgrounds. The reverse of this is equally true: when expecting women are not educated and are unhealthy with poor nutritional care, the growth of the womb and newborn size is poor. Read more...

Investment in Midwifery can Save Millions of Lives of Women and Newborns

New report reveals major gaps in midwives’ services in 73 high-burden countries

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (3 June 2014) – A report released today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund together with the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners reveals that major deficits in the midwifery workforce occur in 73 countries where these services are most desperately needed. The report recommends new strategies to address these deficits and save millions of lives of women and newborns.

The 73 African, Asian and Latin American countries represented in the State of the World’s Midwifery 2014: A Universal Pathway – A Woman’s Right to Health suffer 96 per cent of the global burden of maternal deaths, 91 per cent of stillbirths and 93 per-cent of newborn deaths, but have only 42 per cent of the world’s midwives, nurses and doctors. The report urges countries to invest in midwifery education and training to contribute to closing the glaring gaps that exist. Investments in midwifery education and training at agreed international standards can yield – as a study from Bangladesh shows – a 1,600 per cent return on investment. 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..

Worldwide, Nearly Six Million Babies Are Born and Die Each Year Without Birth or Death Certificates

New Lancet Series finds counting births and deaths is an indicator of progress towards ending 3 million preventable infant deaths

LONDON—Each year, 5.5 million babies enter and leave the world without being recorded and one in three newborns—over 45 million babies—do not have a birth certificate by their first birthday. Babies who are stillborn, born too early, or who die soon after birth are least likely to be registered, even in high-income countries.

Findings from the Every Newborn Series, published today in The Lancet, paint the clearest picture to date of a newborn’s chance of survival and the steps that must be taken to end preventable infant deaths. New analyses indicate that 3 million maternal and newborn deaths and stillbirths can be prevented each year with proven interventions—including the promotion of breastfeeding, neonatal resuscitation, kangaroo mother care for preterm babies, antenatal corticosteroids, and the prevention and treatment of infections. These interventions can be implemented for an annual cost of US$1.15 per person. Providing quality care at birth yields a triple return on investment—saving mothers and newborns, and preventing stillbirths—and protects babies from disability. Read more...

Advancing Breastfeeding: The Power of the Network

By: Mariam Claeson, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ruth Landy, Social Impact; Originally posted by Impatient Optimists

Chinese celebrity Ma Yili has over 50 million social media fans, and now she’s using her influence to promote breastfeeding in her home country, where only 28 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed. The “10m2 of Love” campaign Ma is publicizing includes a mobile app to help Chinese women locate and use public breastfeeding spaces.

From China to Pakistan, Venezuela and Viet Nam, countries are experimenting with new approaches to promote a life saving, natural practice under threat in the modern world. Read more...

Raise Your Voice for Newborn Health

Worldwide, 2.9 million babies die within their first month, largely from preventable causes. A new report released by Save the Children, "Ending Newborn Deaths", shows that the the first 24 hours of a child's life are the most critical, with more than one million babies dying each year on their first day. Yet half of these deaths could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free, quality health care. A group of partners, led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, are working to turn the trend of newborn deaths around and have developed a strategy with goals and targets around ending newborn deaths titled Every Newborn: an action plan to end preventable deaths.

In order to make the plan as effective as possible, experts and advocates are asked to submit comments before Friday, February 28th on this page.The draft action plan highlights the tremendous progress made to improve child and newborn health, and affirms newborn health as a human right as recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: OBGYNs Improving Maternal & Infant Health in Ethiopia

By: Madeline Taskier, University of Michigan, Global Initiatives

In Ethiopia, women are 200 times more at risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes than women in developed countries. Almost a third of all maternal death and morbidity in Ethiopia is caused by unsafe abortion procedures., and the country has a strikingly high health workforce shortage. Due in part to these factors, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Read more...

Busting Myths: Do Health Systems Deliver for Women?

By: Margaret Kruk & Nana A.Y. Twum-Danso; Originally posted on Impatient Optimists 

Maternal mortality is declining globally but remains persistently high in sub-Saharan Africa: the region contributes 56 percent of all maternal deaths each year. This has been attributed to the low number of women delivering with a skilled birth attendant, which results in many women dying at home or arriving at health facilities too late to be saved. To increase the number of women who have access to skilled providers during childbirth, low-income countries have worked to bring childbirth services to primary care facilities that are close to home. Typically these community clinics are meant to be staffed with nurses and midwives trained to provide basic obstetric care, although in practice, skilled providers are difficult to attract and retain in rural areas. In this model, the vast majority of women are expected to deliver at these community clinics, while women with high-risk pregnancies or those who develop complications in labor are referred to hospitals. Read more...

Born Too Soon Report Featured in Reproductive Health Journal

A special supplement on preterm birth, Born Too Soon, is now available on the Reproductive Health journal website. Feauturing updating content from the original 2012 World Health Organization report "Born too soon: the global action on preterm birth", the supplement also includes an infographic with key facts and figures emerging from the data. This report contains the first-ever estimates of preterm birth rates for 184 countries, and recommended action steps to strengthen prevention and care, especially in low-income countries. Read more...

New Partnerships for Improved Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health

The Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health, which is a unique partnership that aims to accelerate progress towards improved reproductive, maternal, and child health outcomes, is pleased to announce the publication of two Partnership Profiles. These profiles were developed through a collaborative process among the four Alliance founding partners: USAID, DFID, AusAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Partnership Profile series intended to highlight innovative and catalytic partnerships among donors, governments and implementing partners. Read more...

Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development Announces Award Nominees

The Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development today announced 22 Round 3 award nominees from a pool of 53 finalists – innovators who descended on Washington for three days to showcase bold, new ideas to save the lives of mothers and newborns in developing countries with aspirations of international funding to realize their vision. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Save a Mother, Save a Child

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

At Women Deliver, we believe that healthy mothers are the key to healthy families and communities. A recent study in rural Malawi proves this to be the case. Evaluations of a five-year program found that improving maternal health care reduced newborn mortality by 30% and saved at least 1,000 newborn lives. Read more...

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