Saving Mothers Lives at the Community Level

by VSI, Venture Strategies Innovations

As the year comes to a close, Team VSI is busy wrapping up the year-end activities and reflecting on the progress and impact of our work in 2011. 

Our work in Mozambique has been highlighted with stories of women and providers who have made a difference to our work. They are the example of how simple and innovative medical solutions can make an everlasting impact on families and entire communities.  Mama Maria is such an example.  As both a mother living in rural Mozambique and a traditional birth attendant (TBA) she is the embodiment of our work to save lives and improve women’s health.  Her informal training in childbirth, passed from generation to generation, is a vital component of our program to equip TBAs, like Maria, with life-saving misoprostol.  Since the start of our program in Mozambique, VSI has educated a total of 2,675 providers on the provision of misoprostol for management of excessive bleeding after childbirth and emergency postabortion care. This means more women and mothers will have the support and protection that they deserve. On a recent trip to Mozambique Mama Maria explained the value of such a simple tool, “We are so thankful.  Before we had the tablets, our mothers would die.  Now, we can stop the bleeding before it is too late".

As we look ahead to 2012 we promise to stay focused on reaching women where they are. With your support, we will continue to bring health solutions like misoprostol tablets to more hard-to-reach communities to make pregnancy and childbirth safer. We are actively working with the government on plans to scale-up our program to reach more mothers in need. Your partnership in our efforts to improve the lives of women in places where the need is greatest means a lot to us. We hope you will consider renewing your valued contribution. Together we are stronger and can achieve more.

For more information on VSI, read our recently published Biennial Report, covering programmatic activity and achievements during 2009-2010. The Report encapsulates the mission-driven work of our organization to improve women’s health by increasing access – access to health technologies and essential care.

NPR interviews TBAs
NPR interviews TBAs

This summer, VSI had the opportunity to travel with National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Things Considered host Melissa Block and producer Andrea Hsu to Northern Mozambique to introduce them to VSI program beneficiaries and community-level providers working to save women's lives with misoprostol tablets.  The site visit was featured in the program’s summer series, “Beginnings,” covering experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting from around the world. 

The VSI-Mozambique team accompanied NPR to Nacala Porto in Nampula Province to meet with trusted traditional birth attendants like Mama Maria, who VSI trained on prevention of postpartum hemorrhage and equipped with life-saving misoprostol tablets for the first time. The broadcast, which features these birth attendants, raised awareness in the United States of the potential of misoprostol to be used at the community level by traditional birth attendants to protect rural mothers who otherwise have no protection from this leading cause of maternal death globally.  

When interviewed by Melissa Block, Dr. Cassimo Bique, Senior Technical Advisor for VSI-Mozambique, laid it out quite simply:

"I can say in one word, simple word, misoprostol is something — a miraculous drug."


Mozambiquean mother with children
Mozambiquean mother with children

On Wednesday, June 15th, every donation made to this project will be matched by Global Giving by 30%.  Don’t miss this opportunity to make a difference to mothers in Mozambique.  Every 90 seconds a mother dies during pregnancy or childbirth, and 99% of these deaths take place in developing countries where lack of access to basic medicines and services are taking mothers from their children.

VSI is a nonprofit organization committed to improving women’s health in developing countries by creating access to life-saving and affordable health solutions for all.  Make your dollar stretch by giving a gift on Wednesday and supply life-saving medicines to 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 our dedication to making maternal health an equal right no matter where you live.


Traditional Midwives Reviewing Training Materials
Traditional Midwives Reviewing Training Materials

Empowering Local Midwives to Save Lives

In Sub-Saharan Africa, so many women and girls die from childbirth or unsafe abortion that it is said that everyone knows someone – a sister, aunt, friend, or mother – who has died from these causes.  Mozambique is no exception to this with 1 in 37 women risking death in pregnancy and childbirth. One of the leading causes of maternal death is excessive bleeding after childbirth or postpartum hemorrhage (PPH); disparities in women’s ability to access health care and the fact that over 70% of births occur in rural areas exacerbate the risk of dying from this manageable condition.  Thus, in efforts to protect women in childbirth from PPH, our project targets pregnant mothers not just where we want them to be, which is delivering in a facility, but wherever they may deliver: at home or on-the-way to that distant clinic. 

In partnership with local organizations like AMOG, the Mozambican Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, we have piloted a project educating women on birth preparedness and distributing misoprostol for use at home births.  Misoprostol (or "miso") is an easy-to-use, heat-stable generic tablet that is practical in developing countries for the management of PPH, and it has tremendous life-saving effects.  When a mother takes three tablets immediately after delivery, it can greatly improve her chances of surviving childbirth from excessive bleeding.  It can also provide an back-up treatment in clinics that have poor supplies of standard medications that require refrigeration and injection.

The project aims to make miso available through a variety of channels: prenatal care visits and through traditional birth attendants, and a combination of the two in three focused districts areas totaling around one million in population.   Traditional birth attendants (TBAs) are trusted community members who receive a cultural education –passed from generation to generation—in the rituals of childbirth.  In situations when women cannot reach a health facility, TBAs living in these remote Mozambican communities are often women’s only option for support during childbirth.

Since the project’s commencement, VSI and partners have trained over 175 TBAs to administer misoprostol as part of their care during delivery in the rural communities of Namacurra and Nacala and over 50 ANC providers.

The local women have responded to the program with overwhelming support, testimony to the value of empowering women to save women’s lives in their own communities.  One TBA from Nacala Porto excitedly told us that, “Mothers like the tablets! They tell us ‘we want more tablets’!’” Husbands are happy to see their wives feeling stronger after childbirth, and women who attend church are even praying for the tablet to stay in the community.  By making miso available both at the facility during an ANC visit and to frontline providers like TBAs, all women can have access to this life-saving tablet regardless of the place of delivery (home or as back-up at a facility).

As we approach Mother’s Day, we would like to extend our deepest thanks for your contributions through Global Giving and your support in making childbirth safer for all mothers.  Please consider continuing your support by joining our “I am a mother” campaign and giving through Global Giving or visiting us online to learn how to get involved –

Traditional Midwives in Training
Traditional Midwives in Training


This Wednesday, March 16th, Global Giving is matching all online donations at 30%. Here are ten reasons why you should consider supporting our project, “Saving Mothers Lives at the Community Level”:

  1. Investing in a mother’s health is an investment in her children, family and community.
  2. In Mozambique, women have a 1 in 37 lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy and childbirth; when a newborn loses her mother, the likelihood she will reach her first birthday is diminished.
  3. Excessive bleeding due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth is the leading cause of death in developing countries– a condition that is preventable.
  4. Due to the remote, rural countryside, most women deliver a home.
  5. VSI is helping women where they are at the village level.
  6. Our project ensures mothers and frontline providers have access to generic tablets that have incredible life-saving effects in the management of excessive bleeding. 
  7. The cost of a preventive dose is less than a dollar. 
  8. We have empowered and trained thousands of frontline health care providers on its use and benefits.
  9. By giving through VSI this Tuesday your dollar will go further in helping women most in need.
  10. You are helping to save a life during childbirth and pregnancy.

We believe that no matter where women live, they deserve equal access to life-saving medicine and the opportunity for a safe pregnancy and childbirth as part of their basic human rights.  Thank you for your consideration this Wednesday. We deeply appreciate the support of those who share our commitment to saving mothers' lives in Mozambique.



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Organization Information

VSI, Venture Strategies Innovations

Location: Irvine, California - USA
Website: http:/​/​
VSI, Venture Strategies Innovations
Project Leader:
Colleen O'Connor
Anaheim, CA United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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