By: Abel Tadesse, MHS (@Abel_says)
May 7, 2012
This coming Mother’s Day, most of us in developed countries will recognize the mothers we know in our lives. We will dedicate some time to order chocolate, flowers, or buy lotions filled with wonderful aroma. On the other hand, there are hundreds of thousands of mothers mainly in developing countries that go through many challenges in their path to become a mother. According to The New York Times article U.S. Lags in Global Measure of Premature Births, the premature birth rate shows a significant increase and it continues to grow. The article also references a collaborated report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), Save the Children and March of Dimes that highlights the staggering number of premature birth rates where more than 60% of preterm births occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The number is frightening but it is crucial to realize the important elements needed to address this issue: expanded effort on awareness and education. The rising number of 15 million preterm births leading to more than 1 million deaths worldwide needs special attention. This does not include preterm births in areas where there is no defined tracking process or those deaths in rural areas of developing countries. Global organizations such as World Health Organization agree that the 75% of the deaths can be prevented with cost-effective care.
This may be one element to address this issue; however I strongly believe the problem can be more effectively solved, such as implementing access to educational programs such as Ethiopian Global Initiative (EGI)’s Midwives Scholarship Fund. The organization is aiming to increase the number of midwives by working with the Hamlin College of Midwives (HCM) in Ethiopia. HCM focuses on selecting students from rural Ethiopia to complete a Bachelor of Science in Midwifery. Upon completion and proper licensure through the Ministry of Health, the midwives are placed back to their communities to care and educate mothers, children and their families providing holistic pregnancy care.
This is the sustainable kind of effort that we in the developing world need to focus on as it is long-term solution that improves maternal-child healthcare, including preterm birth complications and death.
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Abel Tadesse, MHS, is the Director of Project Development at the Ethiopian Global Initiative.