Why should the world save 550,000 mothers from dying every year?
Charity formed in 2005 to reduce numbers of women dying in pregnancy & childbirth due to poverty
It is well documented that MDG 5 is the Goal on which there has been no progress since 2000. In fact the same numbers of women are dying, >550,000 in 2009 as were dying in 1986 when the Safe Motherhood Initiative was launched. Douglas Alexander, the UK Secretary of State for International Development has stated that progress on MDG 5 is “significantly off track.” (The Guardian 12th September 2009.) In the same article Barbara Stocking, the Chief Executive of OXFAM states that these deaths could be avoided through relatively small investments.
Yet this MDG is probably the easiest on which to have an immediate and lasting impact. The provision of basic medications to treat or prevent pregnancy related complications would save tens of thousands of women and babies. Examples being Magnesium Sulphate to treat eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition related to high blood pressure and accounting for 14% of deaths. This drug costs around US $1 per dose (a woman would need 3-5 doses) and Misoprostol to prevent Post Partum Haemorrhage which accounts for around 34% of deaths and costs around US 25cents per dose (a woman would need 3 doses.)
Hope for Grace Kodindo (HFGK)
was set up in 2005 during the Making Poverty History campaign and the G8 Summit. The BBC produced an episode of PANORAMA which was set in Chad’s main maternity hospital where at least one woman a day was dying, many for the want of the above medications. We raised funds, sourced and shipped the medications and in November 2005 visited the hospital which had been featured in the programme. The BBC returned to film a “What Happened Next?” episode. During that visit we met with the UNFPA who asked that we keep them informed of progress which we have done. In 2008, Dr Grace Kodindo reported to the EU that the maternal mortality rate in that hospital related to eclampsia had reduced from 14% to 2.3% and the newborn mortality rate had dropped from 23% to 7.3%. She stated that this was not down to large organisations or governments, but to a small organisation in the UK.. ours!
The UNFPA contacted us in 2007 to request that we extend our support to Liberia and Sierra Leone (now officially the most dangerous place on earth to be pregnant with a lifetime risk of 1:7) which we have done and are getting good results. We have added Somaliland to our recipient countries following close working with the local Somaliland community here in Cardiff and through PONT charity in Pontypridd, to Mbale Hospital in Eastern Uganda.
In 2010, HFGK began supplying these medications to Northern Nigeria, where we were told “there are wards full of eclamptic women, the staff know how to use the medications, but they just don’t have them!” Since March 2010, they have them! In June 2010 Rwanda became the 7th country supplied by HFGK, initially to two hospitals, one in the capital Kigali and the other in a rural hospital visited by Angela Gorman during her visit.
The 3 conditions we place on the recipient hospitals are:-
1. That the women receive the medications free of charge. They cost the hospital nothing as we also pay for the shipping.
2. That someone takes responsibility for reporting to HFGK on usage and stock levels so that further stocks can be sent before the shelves are empty.
3. That the women are not told that a charity is providing the medications. We want them to think that their country values them sufficiently to provide the medicines free of charge. We are not bothered that the government takes the credit as long as the women do not die because of poverty.
With significant funding and support, we could extend our provision of these medications across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Alongside the provision of the medications I have produced a leaflet which sets out clearly the signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia and without any script. This is because I am very aware that around 80% of the women affected, do not read or write. Additionally, the leaflet can be used in all of the countries that we are supporting. I am currently working on a similar leaflet which will alert mothers to the very real possibility of post partum haemorrhage which kills around 34% of the 550,000 women. This condition is even more dangerous than eclampsia in that the latter condition develops gradually, whereas the haemorrhage occurs and kills in some cases, within a few hours of the delivery. This lethal condition can be caused either by the uterus failing to contract
down following the delivery, thereby allowing the significant blood flow needed during the pregnancy to continue, or by parts of the placenta remaining following the delivery, thereby preventing the uterus from contracting back to its pre-pregnancy condition. Prevention of haemorrhage requires the oral administration of 3 tablets of a drug called Misoprostol which is a hormone based medication and “tells” the uterus to contract down and stop the life-threatening blood flow. This medication can be administered in the community, whereas the Magnesium Sulphate is given either intra-muscularly or intra-venously and must be administered in a Hospital or Health Centre setting.
It is recognized and well documented that saving the lives of mothers will impact positively on the numbers of children dying. The death of a mother immediately raises by tenfold, the chances of other children in her family dying as the source of nurture and nutrition will have been removed. This is particularly significant for under 5yr old children. The repercussions extend even further into education for older children who may have to leave school in order to care for the family. It is can therefore be assumed that achieving MDG 5 will assist with achieving other MDGs with minimal input.
In short, achieving MDG 5 is “do-able” in fact it MUST be “do-able.”
Aug 28, 2010
I need to mention that I take clinical staff to Africa, midwives, OBS/GYN for up to 2weeks to provide training and share skills. Staff in the developing world have a lot to share, as in working in a resource poor environment and are very innivative!! If anyone out there would like to come, you would have to fund yourself, but I would make all the arrangements that are possible from the UK!! Everyone loves going to Africa, it's life-changing!
Aug 28, 2010