I just read A Mother’s Day Lament: Why Has Improving Maternal Health Been So Elusive? by Anne Goddard, President and CEO, ChildFund International, in the Huffington Post. The lament is that progress toward keeping moms healthy and safe in childbirth and reducing maternal mortality has been the slowest of all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Her organization is doing huge, meaningful, effective work in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. She writes of the org’s health work in Senegal:
Thanks to a grant from the U.S. International Development Agency (USAID), and working collaboratively with other partners, ChildFund has implemented a large-scale community health project that we believe will ultimately reach virtually the entire country over the next four years. A network of community-based health huts and outreach sites is being created so that virtually everyone — those in both rural and urban areas — will have convenient access to trained healthcare.
She goes on to write about the important role of education and engaging women themselves in the solutions:
In tandem with the centers themselves are additional educational efforts at the community level, particularly addressing some of the cultural traditions that can impact a woman’s health, such as the practice of female genital cutting. There are other cultural aspects that also are informing our strategy. We understand, for example, the vital role that grandmothers and godmothers play as mentors to the younger women in their communities, and so we are training these community elders as birth attendants and community health volunteers, integrating them into this system of healthcare built at the community level.