I’m writing to give you an update on our work to save mothers’ lives, and to show what you’ve helped accomplish as a Partners In Health supporter. Every day, thanks to your generosity, Partners In Health (PIH) is working to bring care to the people who need it most. And no patient we serve needs access to care more than a woman in labor.
Amazingly, in 2014, women still die in childbirth—nearly 800 every day. Almost all of these women live in poor countries. In the U.S., death during childbirth was all but eradicated at the turn of the 20th century. In fact, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where I serve as faculty, was founded in 1832 as the “Boston Lying-in Hospital.” Why? Because 150 years ago in the U.S., we recognized the need for women to be close to care when delivering their babies—close to doctors and nurses and close to facilities if surgical care was needed.
In the countries where we work, from Haiti, to Malawi, to Lesotho, we’re still working to spread this high level of care. And together with partners like you, we’re moving toward a future with zero maternal deaths—providing the first-rate health care every woman deserves, no matter where they live, and no matter where they’re from.
This past fall, my colleagues released the inaugural edition of PIH Reports, a series exploring innovations in global health care. The first report, The Role of Maternity Waiting Homes as Part of a Comprehensive Maternal Mortality Reduction Strategy in Lesotho, provides an in-depth look at how maternity waiting homes at remote clinics in Lesotho are increasing the number of facility-based deliveries, making childbirth safer in a country burdened with significant challenges. Per every 100,000 live births, 620 women will die in this tiny African kingdom, where rugged, mountainous terrain and a high burden of HIV present unique hardships. And to provide maternal health care to mothers across the nation, we’ve joined key partners to develop an all-inclusive strategy to save women’s lives.
In this report, we share the effectiveness of maternity waiting homes as part of this strategy to reduce maternal mortality. These homes allow women in Lesotho to make the rigorous trek a week or two before they anticipate going into labor. Once there, a woman can relax for the remainder of her pregnancy, knowing she’s only a few yards from trained medical professionals, needed equipment, and medicines.
And to ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery for expectant mothers in Lesotho, we’ve developed a comprehensive plan—from the community health workers who accompany them to prenatal appointments, to the waiting houses, to the midwives, nurses, and doctors who provide safe deliveries at the health center. And these clinic-based deliveries, with medical staff at the ready and adequate supplies in tow, can be the difference between life and death. I’m excited to report that at the PIH-supported clinic in the village of Bobete, where this comprehensive approach was launched, the number of facility-based deliveries has increased 370 percent since 2009.
If you are interested in reading the report in full, you can download it on our website at http://www.pih.org/knowledge-center.
At PIH, we won't settle for a world where mothers die for lack of access to health care. Instead, we’ll expand our work to provide prenatal care, safe deliveries, and crucial family planning to women across the countries where we work—bringing the fruits of medical science to some of the world’s poorest, hardest to reach communities.
On behalf of my colleagues and partners, please accept my sincere thanks for your support and for believing in us.
Dr. Joia Mukherjee
Chief Medical Officer