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Disney movies often spring from the tragedy of a maternal death-- think Cinderella, Snow White, Bambi, the Fox & the Hound, Finding Nemo, Beauty & the Beast and on it goes. We know that not only is the premature death of any woman is a tragedy, but that obviously there are effects for at least a generation.
But Alicia Yamin and colleagues published an article this summer that looks in depth at the longer-term effects of maternal death in three regions in Tanzania (Rufiji, Kilombero, and Ulanga) where a diversity of ethnicities and religions are represented and maternal mortality is particularly high.
The study is a qualitative study, meaning that the authors used semi-structured interviews to capture the views, words and experiences of those affected by a maternal death; fathers, family members and others are interviewed. The findings point to the underlying low status of women and girls as being a pervasive issue throughout the life cycle. None of the women had a secondary level education. The female guardians who took over maternal orphans had limited economic power and were constrained in their ability to champion these children.
As is documented elsewhere, the study notes that the "maternal orphans" are typically not breastfed and often undernourished, giving them an disadvantage as far as health from the very beginning. They also faced additional...
Just when you thought there could be no more revered – or feared – days of observance, along comes ‘World Toilet Day’ again to remind us how far we have NOT come. Our hopes were so high that the Gates Foundation would solve this dire dilemma, only to come up short like the last square on the roll. $40 million dollars in funding simply flushed with no viable solution. The basic facts remain unchanged that one in three women and girls lack even basic sanitation services. Over 2.5 billion people do not have access to a toilet.
What happens when sanitation isn’t available?
• Illness. ‘Diarrhoeal diseases are the second most common cause of death of young children in developing countries, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined, and resulting in 1 death every 20 seconds.’
• Lost education. Girls are kept out of school during their menstrual cycle
• Missed opportunity. There’s money to be made, exactly how we’re not sure, I’m simply parroting something I’d read.
Leave it to women entrepreneurs who look for innovative solutions and great things happen! One of our new favorite products is the RubyCup Menstrual Cup. It’s a remarkable product that proves something needn’t be big to be mighty. ...
There is so much momentum on maternal and newborn health commodities. Today we pause to take a look at some of the most important work initiated by the United Nations initiative, Every Woman, Every Child (EWEC). Three important drugs make all the difference in the management of the major killers of women in childbirth. Quality oxytocin and misoprostol address postpartum hemorrhage, while magnesium sulfate addresses eclampsia. All jargon aside, EWEC technical teams are working to simplify the formulations, identify quality manufacturers and improve access to these three essential drugs.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) convene this work. The Maternal Health Technical Reference Team (MHTRT) works to increase the appropriate use of quality oxytocin, misoprostol and magnesium sulfate, as well as to improve access and use by reducing key barriers in EWEC countries. The MHTRT’s objectives are the following:
•Improve forecasting and quantification;
•Achieve an adequate supply of quality commodities available where needed;
•Improve and adopt practices and policies for safe use; and
•Advance innovations such as simplified packaging and presentation, as well as heat-stable
formulations and easier to use modalities.
The new product ‘The Guardian CBT’ kit, contains an innovative assemblage of everyday items that when used together can arrest postpartum hemorrhage, a leading cause of maternal death worldwide. The life-saving solution is simple yet effective: A condom is attached to one end of a sterile IV tube, at the other end an IV bag filled with sterile water. When inserted into the uterus and filled, the device acts as a balloon stopping the life threatening blood loss.
In choosing a partner for such a critical product launch, when it is – quite literally – a matter of life or death, the selection of which condom to include was extremely important. “We are so thrilled to be able to offer GLYDE condoms in our Guardian CBT Kit. Not only are they cruelty free and vegan, GLYDE products are also strong and durable, with a 22 year track record of zero product recalls. We needed a superior product, and we have it in GLYDE.” states Maternova, Inc. Co-founder Allyson Cote. As efficacy and accessibility are crucial, The Guardian CBT Kit is ideal for use in low resource settings, where electricity and sterilization may be limited.
While similar kits exist, the average price of $300 and other factors make them prohibitive for caregivers operating with limited resources. Annually, over 280,000 women die from maternal complications, including postpartum hemorrhage. Needlessly, childbirth remains one of the leading killers of women in developing countries. Women living in wealthier...
by Rachel Zaslow, Mother Health International (2nd in a two part blog)
I believe that when we remove midwifery from community, we risk losing midwifery altogether.
One day while we were acting out a birth scenario where a baby was extremely distressed at birth, we talked about how helpful it would be for the midwives to be able to count fetal heart tones. If a traditional midwife could determine in advance if a baby was in distress, she may be able to resolve the situation or have time to make a transfer. Without knowing how to count, how would a midwife learn to count heart tones? For those of us who learned to count diligently in elementary school, it is hard to imagine a world that is not ordered by numbers that correlate to days and times. The midwives shared that they track their menstrual cycles with a string of beads that is cycled to the moon. This way of knowing makes sense in an area where there is no electricity and women still bleed with the moon.
My partner midwife Olivia was with us at that meeting and she thought of the abacus. This is how the Heart String was dreamed up. We made a string of color-coded beads that midwives could use to assess fetal heart tones. For every heartbeat, the midwife ticks off a bead and then after 15 seconds (we use sand timers), look at what color bead they have landed on. White beads mean the FHT is too low. Green beads, FHT is in a range of normal. Red beads, the FHT is too high. We then developed...
by Rachel Zaslow, Mother Health International
Two years ago the UNFPA issued a State of the World’s Midwifery report that called for investment in trained midwives as the single most important response to the global crisis in maternal health. “Every year approximately 350,000 women die while pregnant or giving birth — almost 1,000 a day,” states the report. “Of these women, 99 percent die in developing countries”. The World Health Organization reports estimate that close to 80% of babies born in these rural areas are received into the hands of traditional midwives; women who practice midwifery as it has been handed down to them from
generation to generation. An important question for those of us invested in international
midwifery work must be, what happens when traditional midwives intersect with western models of training and obstetrics? Can issues of power and privilege be transcended such
that the two work together in harmony?
NGOs, charitable organizations and government models of education in
Africa have historically approached the training of traditional midwives with a ‘West is
best’ model. While the training of traditional midwives in western style obstetrics may
have had some successes, ripple effects of this model can be traced to unintended
consequences that ultimately harm the very population organizations are attempting to
Why are we so thrilled about the Girl Declaration? Why should you sign the declaration too?
So often dry titles and updates abound in international development. Not so this year, in 2013.
This year sees the debut of the first, on-of-a-kind, truly novel and groundbreaking "Girl Declaration." This is a vibrant, almost singing, declaration of what is possible and what is demanded by girls who refuse to be left behind. 25 veteran international organizations talked with 508 girls living in poverty in 14 countries to create this unique declaration. For the first time, policymakers and girls worked together to put their 'hopes, dreams and needs' on the agenda in the form of the "Girl Declaration":
1) Girls must reach adulthood with skills and knowledge to participate in economic, social and cultural life.
2) Girls must have access to appropriate health services
3) Girls must be free from violence and exploitation
4) Girls must be able to build and protect their assets..
5) Girls must have equal access to services, opportunities and legal rights
Take notice world-- take notice cultures that enslave, gag, suppress and violate girls. It is no longer tolerated and an incredibly strong global movement won't stop until girls reach their potential. These are some of the girls interviewed for this declaration: