Mother Health International
Mother Health International works to reduce maternal and infant mortality in communities where the burden is highest. The UNFPA estimates that 80% of babies are born into the hands of traditional midwives in the Global South. We work alongside traditional midwives to provide comprehensive maternal health care and education within a model that is sustainable for the local communities served. We have a replicable model for maternity centers that are founded on locally innovated solutions to preventable mortality.
Our model is designed to specifically address barriers to care for families and make high-quality maternity care accessible within each community. When a woman must choose between the daily task of fetching water for her children or going for prenatal care, she will choose water. Every time. When a woman must choose between money for food or money for transport for midwifery care, she will choose food. When a woman walks for miles and miles with her small children on her back to receive care and is treated poorly or not seen at all, she does not return for care. All of these may seem obvious but they are the essential and sometimes life-altering choices that women must make daily around prioritizing healthcare and the overall well-being of her family. Having a clinic that is reflexive and responsive to these critical decisions means everyone in our community gets essential care.
Our first clinic, ‘Ot Nywal Me Kuc’ is a full spectrum maternity center in Northern Uganda. When a woman comes to our clinic, she joins a community committed to maternal health; she has a network of support to answer her questions, counseling to work through trauma from violence or domestic abuse, prenatal screening for potential risk factors, medicine to treat illness and infection, prenatal vitamins, and a phone number for a vehicle that will pick her up in labor. Once in labor women are brought to our clean and always staffed clinics, given one-on-one midwifery care throughout delivery, have access to emergency medicine and skilled midwives, access to an ambulance for emergency transport, are given food and clean water in labor, and given at least 12-24 hours of postpartum care before being driven home. We offer family planning and ongoing reproductive healthcare for women in our community.
Our Midwives on Bikes ride on motorcycles and mountain bikes to bring prenatal care to the most rural areas of their own communities. Remote villages receive monthly visits from midwives who come with assessment tools, medicine, and prenatal vitamins as well as phone numbers and phone credit for the labor line to call and receive help when labor begins. In this way, even the most rural women get seen from early pregnancy, receive integrated labor support, emergency transport services, post-partum visits to assess weight, nutrition, flag health concerns and integrate support into family life. Before our Mobile Midwives project began, approximately 27% of women who birthed at our clinic received regular (more than 3) prenatal care. As of January 2017, 93% of women who gave birth at our clinic, had received a minimum of 4 prenatal visits and 74% had received at least 8 visits. Antenatal care ensures that mothers are nourished, STIs and other illness are treated, baby’s growth and well-being are tracked and issues noted before they become emergencies. This makes our population of women automatically ‘lower risk’ for serious life-threatening emergencies at the time of birth.
Labor Transport: In rural areas, many women give birth alongside the road while walking to seek help. They risk their own lives and the lives of their babies when this happens. Many women must walk miles home after their child is born, risking hemorrhaging along the way. Transport is one of the most important tools we can use to ensure good outcomes. Village Ambulances are Motorcycles with covered beds attached to the back. We use them to pick women up in labor, bring them to our clinic for labor and delivery, and drive them home post-partum, eliminating several risk factors and saving lives. We place phones in the hands of traditional midwives living throughout the community and make sure that pregnant women can access them when in labor so that the ambulance can be called. The Village Ambulance is integral to fistula prevention, as no mother in our area must wait for days on end without help in the case of true obstructed labor.
Mother Health International trains and supports midwives in countries around the world. We have worked to build capacity of midwives and replicate our model of care in Senegal, Guinea, Haiti and the Southern United States. We know that what we do works- it saves lives and improves the overall health of mothers and babies. Our vision over the next ten years is to help other communities in rural Africa implement our model. This year we opened our center to train African midwives in specific skills that will support them in saving lives no matter where they work. One community at a time, we will make childbirth safer.
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