More than a number: Lifesaving care for women and children

Today alone, the lives of over 17,000 children under the age of 5 will be claimed,1 and almost 800 women will die from complications during pregnancy, childbirth and post-delivery.2 These staggering statistics are the devastating realities that children and families face around the world, each and every day.

But it doesn’t have to be this way: we have the power to save lives.

Many of the illnesses that claim the lives of children – such as pneumonia, measles or diarrhea – are entirely preventable or treatable. And in the developing world, where over 99% of pregnancy-related deaths occur, only half of all women receive recommended health care during pregnancy.

A call for a positive shift – stat

Recognizing this huge problem, and our power to change it, nations aligned during the 2010 G8 summit with a common purpose of saving the lives of mothers and children. As part of our commitment to this goal, and thanks to the generous support of Canadian donors and the Government of Canada, Plan Canada has been providing life-saving care to mothers, babies, and children in 2,753 hard-to-reach communities across 7 countries – Ghana, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Mali, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Bolivia.

And now, the results of these important efforts are in and we’re thrilled to share a few amazing highlights from the extensive data collected throughout the project. Here’s how Canadians have helped turn the statistics around by improving maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) in developing countries since 2012:

Zimbabwe:
A new mother smiles at her baby at a MNCH awareness session in Zimbabwe.

A new mother attends a maternal, newborn and child health awareness session in Zimbabwe.

  • Over 12,300 women accessed 4 recommended prenatal care visits during their pregnancy and/or skilled delivery
  • More than 28,100 children received crucial vaccinations
  • Nearly 1,500 village health workers were trained in maternal newborn and child health care and gender equality issues
  • Close to 40,000 school children and almost 6,000 out-of-school youth received health education from peer educators
  • We built 10 new maternity waiting homes and rehabilitated 4 more, while also constructing a new kangaroo care ward for premature newborns (where over 400 babies have received care to date)
  • From 2012 to 2015, there has been a 40% increase in exclusive breastfeeding among new mothers surveyed in project-supported communities
Ghana:
A father cooks as his wife breastfeeds their newborn.

A father from Ghana cooks the family’s meal as his wife breastfeeds their newborn.

  • Over 16,000 women accessed 4 recommended prenatal care visits during their pregnancy and/or skilled delivery
  • More than 5,150 children received crucial vaccinations
  • 480 community mobilizers were trained on gender equality and the importance of male involvement in and support of maternal newborn and child health care
  • Nearly 250 Daddies’ Clubs were formed: voluntary peer groups of men (fathers, married and unmarried) who meet to learn about proper maternal, newborn and child health care and discuss how to best support the health of their wives and children
  • Essential equipment provided to 83 community-based health centres
  • 84% of children surveyed in program-supported areas were vaccinated against measles (an increase from 42.3% at the beginning of the project)
Bangladesh:
Mother with infant in Bangladesh.
  • Over 64,000 women accessed 4 recommended prenatal care visits during their pregnancy and/or skilled delivery
  • More than 48,000 children received crucial vaccinations
  • Over 185,000 awareness sessions were held on safe pregnancy and birth planning, involving nearly 3,000,000 participants
  • Health equipment and supplies were provided to 196 facilities
  • 24-hour safe delivery services were implemented at 47 community-based health centres
  • 92% of mothers surveyed in project-supported communities had adopted exclusive breastfeeding practices to support their infants’ development (an increase from 88% at the beginning of the project)
Tanzania:
Women and children outside a vaccination centre.

Women gather outside a health centre in Tanzania, waiting to have their children vaccinated.

  • Close to 250,000 women accessed 4 recommended prenatal care visits during their pregnancy and/or skilled delivery
  • Almost 360,000 children received crucial vaccinations
  • Nearly 6,000 community health workers were trained on maternal newborn and child health care issues
  • 4 operating theatres were built; 4 ambulance vehicles were provided to health centres; and 5 boat ambulances were obtained
  • Community health workers conducted just over 980,000 home visits to provide prenatal, newborn and child care, while also discussing men’s role in these health practices
  • From 2012 to 2015, there was a 33% increase in exclusive breastfeeding among new mothers surveyed in project-supported areas
Mali:
Parents bring their child to a health appointment.

These parents are sure to bring their child for regular health check-ups at a local clinic in Mali.

  • Nearly 55,000 women accessed 4 recommended prenatal care visits during their pregnancy and/or skilled delivery
  • Over 61,000 children received crucial vaccinations
  • More than 44,000 individual and group maternal, newborn and child health and gender equality awareness activities were organized (including talks, demonstrations, film screenings and radio broadcasts)
  • 51 community-based and referral health facilities were provided with MNCH equipment
  • 87 healthcare workers were trained in Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC)
  • From 2013 to 2015, there was a 29% increase in exclusive breastfeeding among new mothers surveyed in project-supported areas
Ethiopia:
Health post staff in Ethiopia.

A member of health staff reviews and organizes medical records at an Ethiopian clinic.

  • Over 135,000 women accessed 4 recommended prenatal care visits during their pregnancy and/or skilled delivery
  • More than 111,500 children received crucial vaccinations
  • 54 health centres received essential medications and equipment
  • Nearly 94,000 community health mobilizers received training on maternal, newborn and child health practices and procedures
  • 68% of children surveyed in project-supported areas received 3 doses of pentavalent – a vaccine against 5 diseases: diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, hepatitis B, and Haemophilius influenzae type b (an increase from 17% at the beginning of the project).
Bolivia:
A father feels his pregnant wife’s stomach.

A supportive father is excited to feel his baby kick in Bolivia!

As of March 31, 2015*:

  • more than 300 clubs were formed for pregnant couples to promote male engagement during pregnancy, childbirth and after delivery
  • over 4,200 community health workers were trained on maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition
  • 10% more live births attended by a skilled health provider and 13% more children under the age of 5 were treated for pneumonia since the project began

*our efforts in Bolivia are ongoing until 2017, at which time we will be able to provide full impact numbers

A brighter future behind every number

Since 2012, we’ve made incredible gains in maternal, newborn and child health!

Across all 7 countries, our efforts have:

  • trained nearly 76,000 health workers in maternal newborn and child health care
  • enabled almost 574,000 women to receive essential health care before, during or after their childbirth
  • ensured more than 1,815,500 infants and children received crucial vaccinations, medications and treatments

Today, millions more women and children have the invaluable information, resources and services they need to keep them healthy, safe and ready to take on a full life. We’ve already helped create brighter futures around the world – imagine what more we can do if we continue to work together…

This project receives financial support from the Government of Canada through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).

Sources:

  • 1) Unicef
  • 2) World Bank

About Plan International

About Plan International

Plan International is a global movement for change, mobilizing millions of people around the world to support social justice for children in developing countries.

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