The British Government has set out plans to save the lives of more than 7,000 pregnant women as part of its drive to cut maternal deaths in poor countries.
Women in South Africa and Uganda will benefit from a number of new projects aimed at increasing access to contraception and family planning, ensuring more medical experts are on hand for pregnant women and using the latest technologies to keep track of their progress.
Announcing the new projects at this week’s UN summit in New York, the Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell warned there is more to do to reduce the risks linked to pregnancy and childbirth in the world’s poorest countries.
Ten districts are being chosen in the first phase of a national programme to reduce maternal and child mortality, starting in some of the worst performing districts of South Africa when it comes to maternal health.
An early priority will be the urgent roll out of training to doctors, nurses and midwives to deal with obstetric and neonatal emergencies to reduce the high number of avoidable deaths currently taking place in health facilities.
Training will also be provided to form specialist teams to work in each district containing obstetricians and gynaecologists, paediatricians, family physicians, anaesthetists, midwives and primary care nurses.
Post-natal care in the districts will also be dramatically improved using the latest technology. Initiatives such as the use of mobile phones and smart cards to remind mothers of appointments as part of the drive to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS will be introduced.
The work will help avoid 3,000 deaths of women in pregnancy and childbirth.
A joint project with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will focus on increasing awareness of and access to modern family planning to allow couples to have more control over when to have children.
This project will complement the recently initiated Joint UN Programme on Population between the Government of Uganda and nine UN institutions which Britain is co-funding to ensure that family planning services are provided as standard practice by Uganda’s public health system.
A further British project in Uganda will enable 170,000 babies to be vaccinated against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus.
Uganda’s 2,600 hospitals and clinics will also benefit from a programme to ensure they are fully staffed and fully stocked with antibiotics, anti-malarials, vaccines and contraceptives.
Britain’s action in Uganda will help save the lives of 4,400 women.
Every woman, every child
Speaking ahead of the Every Woman Every Child event in New York, Andrew Mitchell said:
Britain is committed to driving down the numbers of women killed every year in pregnancy or childbirth. We will save the lives of 50,000 pregnant women and 250,000 newborn babies as well as giving 10 million people access to modern family planning.
In some of the world’s poorest countries a girl born today has more chance of dying in childbirth than she does of completing primary school. Women in some parts of the world simply do not have access to the advice, skills or technology that could save them.
We are focusing on practical solutions. We are making sure there are enough staff, that women can reach health clinics and that appointments are made and kept.
Read the full press release