Hundreds of thousands of women die during pregnancy or childbirth every year, and nearly nine million children die before reaching the age of five. Many of these deaths can be prevented through community-based health promotion, education and nutrition programs.
World Renew’s Maternal & Child Health Program is an important part of the community development work in every country where we have a presence, with the exception of Niger and Senegal.
In remote areas of developing countries those least likely to receive adequate health care worldwide are poor women and children. Every 90 seconds a woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth. One in seven girls are married by the age of fifteen. Youngs girls can also often be forced into sexual activity resulting in early pregnancy—and many times, an early death for either the mother or child or both. In addition, local traditions can be harmful to pregnant women and their newborns. These include practices like encouraging expectant mothers to severely limit their food intake to avoid weight gain during pregnancy or discarding nutrient-rich colostrum after delivery because it is thought to be harmful to the baby.
The chances that babies born into these circumstances will survive are not great. A third of babies who are born alive each year will succumb to “under-nutrition” before they are five years old. This is a nice way of saying that the world’s poorest children are slowly dying of starvation on an ongoing basis—from hunger, then malnutrition, and eventually an opportunistic illness. About one-fifth of the children who do survive until their fifth birthday will suffer from wasting or stunting resulting from chronic hunger—these are permanent conditions that affect a child’s physical development and mental capacity for the rest of his or her life.
Helping children and mothers to improve their health is central to ending senseless, cruel deaths. Suffering and disability from chronic undernourishment can be prevented through community-based health promotion, education, and nutrition programs. World Renew’s Child and Maternal Health Program is an important part of the community development work in every country where we have a presence, with the exception of Niger and Senegal.
- trains volunteer health workers and birth attendants in ante-natal care, safe delivery, HIV transmission, referral to a clinic or hospital, and post-partum and newborn care.
- trains community leaders to set up savings funds that can be used to help transport women with complicated deliveries to clinics, cover medical costs, and help offset other crises.
- teaches health volunteers to counsel new mothers about nutrition, breastfeeding, hygiene, family planning, immunizations, and disease prevention, and addresses harmful traditional practices.
- works with health facilities to establish routine community participation in health service planning and works with community groups to advocate for policies that benefit the poor. Educates community members through public health fairs, dramatizations, and “Celebration of Health” days. Monitors the health of newborns and young children through age five with monthly growth monitoring, ongoing nutrition counseling, kitchen gardens, and treating malnutrition.
- works with communities to improve the health of children and their mothers can have a profound impact on the future—both in the child’s ability to grow, learn, and rise out of poverty as well as in helping to shape a society’s long-term health, stability, and prosperity.