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Jun 22, 2015

DR Congo's women and babies are the most desperate

A Midwifery Seminar Teacher with a birthing kit
A Midwifery Seminar Teacher with a birthing kit

Thank you, your donation has given new direction and hope to women and babies in DR Congo, a country rated 186 out of 187 on the WHO Human Development Index.

DR Congo is desperate and your donation is saving lives.

This country does not have the capacity to provide women in remote regions with a trained health professional. The women and babies are fortunate if they can have a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) at the birth. Our role has been to educate 900 of these TBAs as much as is possible to give these women the best chance they can to survive.

July 2014 in Uvira, South Kivu Province, the very first Train the Trainer program in DR Congo was organised by our partner Dr Luc Mulimbalimba Masururu.

Here 4 trained Seminar Teachers taught 18 qualified health professional from 3 provinces of South Kivu, North-Kivu and Shaba (Katanga) over 3 weeks of training in non-literate education techniques of Traditional Birth Attendants. 2 health professionals were selected from each of the following Districts, Uvira, Fizi, Mwenga, Nyiragongo, Beni, Shabunda, Kalemie, Malemba Nkulu, and Bukama. After training 4000 Birthing Kits were dispensed between the participants.

In a country haunted by war, where rape is endemic and tragedy abounds the training includes the basics in rape and sexual violence counselling, HIV/Aids counselling as well as the usual topics of prenatal and postnatal care, how to use a birthing kit, how to use local items when a birthing kit is not available, recognition of danger signs in the pregnancy when a woman should be transported to a health clinic and many general health and midwifery topics.

Dr Luc reported “Our objective is for the training of trainer’s teachers to be able to train 78 communities in the three provinces, an approximate of 10 about 780-1500 traditional midwives and community health workers in a year. Lastly they will be involved in reducing poverty and promoting community development in their various villages.”

“We thank very much Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia) for supporting this program and we request that it not be the last, as the participants requested, it will be good to have the same program every year because we still have many districts with no health care facilities and whom this program may help a lot.”

There are now 3 provinces where the TBAs will have ongoing training and it is planned to expand the training into several other provinces over the next few years.

Funding of our expansion program in this most needy country is a high priority.

Our belief is that “no woman should die giving life”.

MST trainees talking to the local community
MST trainees talking to the local community
An impoverished Congolese mother, life is a hard
An impoverished Congolese mother, life is a hard


Mar 26, 2015

Remarkable Progress in Ethiopia

Recent training in the Afar Desert funded by the Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia) and run by the Afar Pastoral Development Association (APDA) has achieved outstanding results. In a one year a comprehensive programme, directed by the indefatigable Valerie Browning in 10 kebeles (neighbourhoods) of Dullassa, has empowered whole communities to stop harmful practices affecting females and leading to an improvement in their reproductive health. 

Steeped in illiteracy these communities clung to traditional practices that harmed birthing mothers leading to maternal and newborn death and injury Women extension workers along with traditional birth attendants (TBAs) were trained and deployed as agents of change. They led guided discussions designed to improve reproductive health and to stop FGM (genital mutilation), early marriage and marriage by force. 19,740 women and girls and their families were taught life skills in health, hygiene and nutrition. 13,200 pastoralist women and their families gained awareness and assistance in stopping harmful practices and 960 mothers achieved a safer and cleaner birth by using a delivery set or, as we know it, a birthing kit.

Those affected by the harmful practices were assisted, protected and counselled, while those who performed the practices were advised and reminded that the government can prosecute them. The APDA also employed three women to assemble a total of 5,000 birthing sets or birthing kits in their field office. They were distributed to the trained TBAs in the program.

All of this was achieved despite challenges which included mediating with neighbouring communities, flooding rains and convincing sceptical mothers that a trained TBA is better than giving birth with no assistance at all. 

The whole program, created from the experience and earlier successes of Valerie Browning and the APDA, has highlighted the enormous value of training and birthing kits in this challenging desert environment.

Dec 17, 2014

Educating traditional midwives is saving lives

The entire community gathers to learn how to help
The entire community gathers to learn how to help

Birthing kits and training in Tamil Nadu

When Dalit (untouchable) women in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu give birth they must select one of two risky choices. They can either have their baby at home or go to a government hospital.  At home this will probably mean giving birth on a dirt floor in a dwelling with no running water.  The trip to hospital is little safer.  Undersupply or corruption have left the hospitals with huge infection risks in the form of dirty mattresses, unclean scalpels, no gloves, soap or clean ties. 

The Birthing Kit Foundation of Australia (BKFA) supplies birthing kits to and has educated over 1,000 traditional birth attendants in Tamil Nadu. Each one now takes a kit along for every birth she attends, whether it is for use at home or as a back-up when she accompanies a mother in a government facility.  A traditional birth attendant armed with a birthing kit can be a life saver wherever a birth takes place.

Education programs in Tamil Nadu, funded by the Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia), make sure more than just the traditional birth attendants get the message.  Husbands and caretakers get involved and find out how they can play a part in a clean, safe birth or act as a back-up if a woman does need hospital support.  Adolescent girls are also being educated on the health challenges they face when they become mothers.  For the first time whole communities in this state now understand the importance of a clean, safe and healthy birthing environment.

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