Author: Women and Children First (UK)

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What Happens to Community Projects after Organizations Leave?

Post Written By Annemijn Sondaal “It’s not a drug, it’s not a vaccine, it’s not a device. It’s women, working together, solving problems, saving lives” -Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet, May 2013 Participatory women’s groups all over the world have created spaces for women to engage in dialogue, exchange their ideas and experiences and spur them to take action to improve their community’s health. The Institute of Global Health, University College London and its’ partners including Women and Children First, have shown that participatory women’s groups can, with participation of at least a third of pregnant women, cut maternal deaths in half and newborn deaths by over a third. Women’s groups are run and attended by local women (and sometimes men), mobilising local resources to address local problems. This type of capacity-building and community-mobilising intervention is perhaps the most likely to sustain after the supporting organisation leaves, but organisations rarely investigate the long-term effect of interventions or their sustainability. This means that little is known about optimal times and methods to withdraw support, the capacities needed, and support mechanisms necessary …

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Women’s Groups: Scaling Up to Save More Mothers’ and Babies Lives

Post Written By: Esther Sharma, Board Member for Women and Children First UK As an expectant mum, with an excited toddler eagerly awaiting the arrival of his new baby, I am more mindful than ever before of the fortunate position I am in, living in the UK with access to great healthcare and lots of support. However, as many of us are acutely aware, with the MDG’s well and truly behind us now, there is still a huge amount of work to be done to ensure that this is the experience of all women and their babies across the world. How many women have the choice about when to start having children, how many children to have and how far apart to space them? Or access to antenatal care and a skilled birth attendant to ensure a safe birth? And what about healthcare facilities for those requiring medical assistance? And vital support in the early days of motherhood? Since 2002, Women and Children First has been working in some of the poorest countries of the …

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Gender-Based Violence in Pregnancy

It is well documented that gender-based violence cuts across all social, economic, religious and class boundaries.  Violence against women and girls is described by the UNFPA as “one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world”, affecting an estimated one in three women. Gender-based violence expresses itself in a host of harmful behaviours directed at women and girls, including sexual assault, female genital mutilation, rape (including marital rape), forced prostitution, early marriage, trafficking and any other acts of physical or psychological violence.   It is thought that violence against a women from her male spouse or partner (so-called intimate partner violence) is the most pervasive form of violence. Gender-based violence, is also rife in conflict zones, affecting women and girls “by virtue of nothing but their gender.” Sadly, this violation of women and girls does not stop even when a woman is pregnant. The consequences of gender-based violence on maternal health are devastating: Pregnant women who are subject to gender-based violence are more likely to delay seeking antenatal care. Terminations of pregnancy are doubled among women who become …

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Improving the health of pregnant women and children in Malawi

An integrated community health facility project to improve maternal and child health. Pregnancy is such a dangerous time in a Malawian woman’s life that it is considered unlucky to tell people about it. The majority of women in Malawi live in scattered villages and find it hard to reach health facilities. They lack the information needed to make informed health decisions and facilities struggle to provide the quality services needed to save mothers’ and babies’ lives. Women and Children First (UK) has supported maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) projects in Ntcheu District since 2005. This integrated community/facility project, implemented by the Malawi Ministry of Health’s Perinatal Care Project between 2010 and 2014, strengthened both the demand and supply sides of the health system to address maternal, newborn and under-fives’ health issues. Overall, the project was very successful in enhancing the coverage of essential maternal, newborn and child health interventions in the target communities and health facilities. The final evaluation showed 94% of women were delivering in health facilities, the percentage of newborns getting postnatal …

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Innovation for Maternal and Child Health

Originally posted on International Innovation  CEO Ros Davies talks to International Innovation about the many dangers and injustices faced by mothers and infants in low-resource settings, and how communities can work together to create effective interventions and reduce pregnancy related mortality and morbidity.  Women and Children First work in some of the world’s poorest communities to prevent maternal and infant mortality. Can you outline some of the organisation’s priority areas for action? In general, our priority areas are marginalised communities in countries that still suffer from high rates of maternal and newborn mortality. Our main body of work focuses on populations in rural settings, who often have great difficulties in accessing health services because of distance, poor transport links or unaffordable costs. The ‘Countdown to 2015: Maternal, Newborn & Child Survival’ has highlighted that there are still 75 countries with unacceptably high maternal and/or newborn death rates. As we’re a small organisation with limited resources and funding to work internationally, we focus on a small number of countries – currently, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda. …

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Surviving Childhood in Africa – Malawi’s success story

There is worldwide agreement that a concerted effort is required to ensure children in under-developed regions, survive and thrive.  Progress on child survival in Sub-Saharan Africa has been patchy, but Malawi is an example of how a poor country can meet global goals.  Political leadership is vital, but NGOs, such as Women and Children First and its partners in Malawi can make an important contribution. The Millennium Development Goals The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed by world leaders in the year 2000.  Each of these goals helps to improve children’s lives, particularly through better health and education. MDG 4 aims specifically to reduce the number of children who die before their fifth birthday. Using 1990 rates as a starting point, MDG 4 aims to cut deaths by two-thirds by the end of 2015. There has been progress towards this goal but more than 6 million under-fives still die each year, mostly from preventable causes. That’s 17,000 deaths daily. Newborn babies comprise the majority of these deaths. Success in Malawi The greatest number of under-fives …

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Empowering Communities to Improve Maternal and Newborn Health

If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you already know thousands of women and babies die every year, due to complications in pregnancy, labour or birth. You probably also know that most of these women and babies are living in poor countries. Are there any lasting sustainable approaches that can address these situations? Empowering women through community mobilization. For over a decade, Women and Children First has been working to improve maternal and newborn health by empowering women and their communities to find their own solutions to their maternal and newborn health problems. Empower [ɪmˈpaʊə]: To make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights. Using a participatory approach model over a 2-year period, groups of poor, often illiterate women living in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, identify and prioritise maternal and newborn health problems in their community. The women also identify local strategies to address these problems, take action on the local strategies and evaluate their impact. Throughout the life cycle of the …