Improve maternal health
Mothers in underdeveloped countries are at serious risk when becoming pregnant. Not only does the condition of the mother impact the baby, but the completely natural occurrence of giving birth can cause the woman's death. When a mother is ill, whether she is expecting her baby or she is nursing and caring for her baby, disease affects everyone. While having a baby should be a joyous occasion, many women are fraught with devastating circumstances and indescribable emotional and physical suffering.
Conditions for birth are unsanitary for the mother and child. Medical equipment and even medical personnel are normally not available. Even women who work as mid-wives are not necessarily properly trained so the woman is on her own during childbirth. Pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum stages are very difficult for women in poor countries. The World Health Organization indicates that “the major direct causes of maternal morbidity and mortality include haemorrhage, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, and obstructed labour”. Thus, the fifth Millennium goal includes targets to prevent maternal deaths and to provide information for planned pregnancies.
Target 1: Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
Target 2: Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health
Many issues must be addressed to fight maternal disease and death. The rate of women who die in childbirth could be reduced by the availability of trained health professionals. And this does not necessarily mean doctors and nurses but at the very least people who have some knowledge to help the women should things go wrong. In addition, women should be made aware of contraceptives and should be given access to them. Young girls should be taught about intercourse and the consequences of having babies so that they plan to have children when they are older and not in their teen years. And lastly, women should have access to medical visits through temporary medical stations and locally trained personnel.
Despite, the large numbers of women dying, there are definite signs that progress is being made. And it comes sometimes in very odd but extremely practical ways.
- Motorbike ambulances are being used in Southern Sudan, Malawi, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia and Afghanistan. Manufactured by Great Britain, South Africa, Saudi Arabia collaboration eRanger, UNICEF has funded many of the ambulances which “combine the benefits of a motorcycle with the cargo capacity of a sidecar, in a package that is cost effective, rugged and simple to maintain”. These are the perfect transportation mode for women and babies who cannot make it to a hospital. Some of them even have enough room to carry a medical attendant and home medical supplies.
- As mentioned, one of the best ways to decrease maternal mortality is through trained medical personnel. Ethiopia, who has the sad distinction of being one of the countries with the highest number of maternal mortality rates in the world, has embarked on a program to train women to help. Officially called TBAs or Trained Birth Attendants, the women are trained through a program administered by the International Medical Corps and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
- In response to the fact that more midwives are needed throughout the world and, in particular, developing nations, the International Medical Corps made its 2009 "International Day of the Midwife" themed, "The World Needs Midwives More Than Ever, which could not be more appropriate".