In collaboration with the First Ladies Initiative, and Leaders for Women's Health, NextAid is helping to bring much needed resources and support to the women, girls, and mothers of Africa. In supporting the UN Millennium Development Goal #5 to reduce maternal mortality, NextAid, the First Ladies Initiative, and Leadership for Women's Health have partnered to support maternal health projects in Africa. We have completed the initial assessment and are now in the planning phase for the first pilot center in Sierra Leone. We are working closely with her Excellency, Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma the First Lady of Sierra Leone and her office in design and implementation of this center.
Birth Waiting Home and Women's Resource Center
Research has shown that mother and infant survival rates depend upon the distance and time a woman must travel to get skilled emergency medical care. Women in developing countries have limited access to health facilities for a wide range of reasons. Often these facilities are too far away or too expensive to travel to when a woman goes into labor. In many rural areas, facilities are nonexistent or unaffordable. We believe that all women are entitled to access quality care before, during, and after childbirth. Birthing homes have been proven to be an effective approach to reducing maternal death by providing a safe haven where pregnant women can live while waiting to give birth.
NextAid is supporting the assessment, design, and planning of this Birth Waiting Home in Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone. In January 2011, an assessment trip was completed by public and maternal health experts. The assessment has shown a clear need for a Birth Waiting Home to be built in the Bonthe (Southern) District, Jong Chiefdom, in the village of Mattru. The shelter will be the first in this district, where pregnant women have difficulty accessing full-care hospitals with the ability to manage difficult deliveries. This Birth Waiting Home will feature a simple dormitory built near the existing hospital, and will also include health education and nutrition programming, child development education, and income-generating activities as part of a Women's Resource Center. The plan is to break ground on the 10-acre donated site later this year. NextAid and our partners are currently raising funds for construction, programming, a solar power system, and water infrastructure.
We anticipate that the center will be approximately 2,500 square feet and will feature:
• Outpatient Prenatal Care
• Inpatient Prenatal Care
• Emergency obstetric stabilization referral and transport
• Dormitory lodging for pregnant women
• Educational and income-generating programs
• Counseling and education
• Staff Housing
Where appropriate and feasible, the center will use local materials and labor. It will use natural lighting and ventilation, solar power, and allow for rainwater harvesting systems. NextAid is committed to projects that are environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable.
The statistics around maternal health are sobering:
- A woman in a developing nation faces a one in 76 chance of death from complications relating to pregnancy, compared to one in 8,000 in an industrialized nation.
- Every 90 seconds, a woman dies of pregnancy related complications, totaling close to half million women each year. These deaths leave approximately 2 million children a year motherless. Without their mothers, these children are 5-8 times more likely to die before they get to their first birthday. – White Ribbon Alliance
- Girls are particularly susceptible to childbirth complications. Pregnancy is the leading cause of death for women under 19. Adolescents aged 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die in childbirth as those in their 20s. Girls under 15 are five times as likely to die as those in their 20s. These statistics are especially relevant in developing countries where child marriage is a common and accepted practice. – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- The maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone is one of the highest in the world; one in eight women risk dying during pregnancy or childbirth. Less than one in five deliveries in Sierra Leone are carried out in a health facility and less than half of all deliveries have the presence of a skilled birth attendant.
In many areas of Africa, particularly rural villages, women do not have access to the most basic reproductive health services that enable them to plan for a sustainable and healthful family. When a woman dies from childbirth related causes, or as a result of contracting a disease, such as HIV, that goes undiagnosed and treated, children are left motherless, and often completely orphaned without any family support system. The orphan epidemic in Africa is creating an entire generation of children who are the most vulnerable and at risk of exploitation, abuse, and neglect.
Global Maternal Health and Women's Resources
Educate yourself about this critical issue and take action!
The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood
The Girl Effect
Mrs. Koroma's Maternal Health Initiative
The First Lady's Initiative