Women who reside in rural areas in Africa are not privy to western conveniences like a health clinic, a doctor or nurse, or even electricity. Many mothers deliver their babies at home with the help of a family member or midwife. But the risk of complications, specifically hemorrhaging which is the leading cause of death, is high. Ethiopian women unfortunately have a 1 in 27 lifetime risk of dying from maternal causes. Their deaths are unacceptable and preventable.
A solution exists that comes in the form of a simple, affordable and easy-to-use tablet called misoprostol. When a mother takes three life-saving tablets immediately after the baby is born, it can effectively prevent excessive bleeding. A preventative dose is amazingly low in Ethiopia – $1.00.
For essentially pennies, a mother’s life can be saved. Thousands of women's lives can be spared by making misoprostol available through local businesses in rural Ethiopia and by training frontline providers like midwives, nurses, traditional birth attendants -even the mothers themselves - to use these tablets.
In the next nine days, VSI has an opportunity to increase our impact. Global Giving is launching a generous matching campaign this Tuesday, October 12th which will run through the following Thursday, October 21st. Every donation made to this project will be matched by Global Giving. Make your dollar, which is the cost of this life-saving medicine, stretch by giving a gift through VSI to support our mission and help us reach the women most in need.
No matter where you live pregnancy and childbirth should be a cherished and joyous experience, not one of fear. Thank you to our committed donors who share this belief and our dedication to making maternal health an equal right no matter where you live.
To help make safer delivery a reality for more mothers in Ethiopia we continue to educate health care providers working on the frontlines to provide misoprostol tablets to manage excessive bleeding after childbirth, or postpartum hemorrhage. On-going training efforts to rural health extension workers are helping to ensure that mothers have the chance to survive childbirth, an often frightening experience for lack of medical care, infrastructure and technology.
In a recent visit to Ethiopia, VSI’s Associate Medical Director met with dedicated health extension workers (HEWs) to observe and gather information about the program as well as to visit with families directly impacted by its success. Capitalizing on the audience with approximately 45 young HEWs in Mojo, Oromiya, she provided a mini-refresher training. She also heard testimonials that highlighted the positive difference these life-saving tablets can make by investing in education, availability and training of HEWS who work in the most rural and underserved areas of Ethiopia. Today the number of babies being born from mothers using “miso” is growing like the photo of this young mother who recently delivered her “miso baby” in her home.
VSI is committed to providing ongoing support and training in order to expand our reach. This summer we hosted an refresher training course to “master trainers” originally enrolled in the project in 2008 and we are embarking upon further HEW trainings in the emerging regions of Ethiopia.
We appreciate the support of those who share our commitment to saving mothers' lives in Ethiopia.
Maternal health programs and policies in Africa have often centered exclusively on women and girls, however today VSI and our partners are increasingly including men. The role of men in women’s health is not only valued but needed to help spread awareness and expand distribution of misoprostol tablets – the life saving tablets that prevent bleeding after home births.
Earlier this year at a community meeting in Zaria, Nigeria over 400 community members gathered to share and report on the successes of misoprostol in their villages. The attendance and participation of husbands and fathers, brothers and uncles and most importantly male community elders were welcomed and celebrated. After a moving reenactment of a death from bleeding after childbirth by a community drama group, one blind man shared a song he wrote with the audience. The song praised “miso,” a drug that prevents women from dying. He sang of gratitude to the implementing team and to VSI for providing the life-saving tablets. His song was inspiring and implored the men of the communities to continue to allow their wives and sisters to the use this life saving drug.
This is just one example of many testimonials heard from the men in Zaria. There is no question that the increased involvement of men in safe motherhood efforts is making a difference. Their voice not only empowers traditional birth attendants to give mothers this drug when they deliver at home but broadens awareness and deepens the community’s commitment to protecting women from life-threatening bleeding after childbirth.
We are thankful for the support of donors who share our commitment to preventing mothers from dying in childbirth.