MDG 5: Improve Maternal health

Case Study: Saving Mothers, Giving Life in Uganda and Zambia

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While significant progress has been made toward reducing maternal mortality, it remains one of the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, where many women deliver without skilled care, giving birth can be especially perilous.

Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) seeks to give every mother the opportunity for a healthy start with her newborn child. Supporting the commitments that Uganda and Zambia have made to improve maternal health, the partnership works at the district level to address the three most dangerous delays pregnant women face in childbirth: the delay in deciding to seek care for an obstetric emergency, the delay in reaching an obstetric facility in time and the delay in receiving quality care when a facility is reached.

Saving Mothers, Giving Life in Uganda and Zambia
Safe Motherhood Action Groups work in Zambian communities to encourage women to deliver in health facilities. The risk of death from pregnancy-related complications is far greater when women deliver at home.

The initiative was launched by USAID, in collaboration with multiple USG agencies and partners including the government of Norway, Merck for Mothers, Every Mother Counts, Project C.U.R.E. and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

One year in, the results are encouraging.

  • Community health workers have improved women's awareness of the importance of delivering in health facilities - resulting in a significant increase.
  • Strengthened transportation and communications networks between communities and health facilities are enabling more pregnant women to access timely, appropriate care.
  • New skilled birth attendants have been hired, trained and equipped with essential supplies, such as kits for the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia.
  • The number of health facilities performing newborn resuscitation has increased dramatically.
  • Active Management of the Third Stage of Labor, a three-step intervention to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, is now a routine practice in most SMGL-supported facilities.
  • SMGL has helped to significantly improve supply chain logistics for magnesium sulfate, an anticonvulsant drug recommended by the WHO as an effective, safe and low-cost treatment for severe pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.

Together, these interventions ensure that women and newborns are receiving quality emergency obstetric services, as well as testing and treatment for HIV and other common pregnancy-related co-morbidities, strengthening the overall health system.

Last updated: September 12, 2014

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