A Honduran mother and her three children have benefited from the assistance of a guide mother, a trained volunteer who checks on local children for age-appropriate development.
As one of the world's leading child development agencies, ChildFund is committed to improving the lives of children in need across the globe. Although much of our work focuses on children, their mothers are just as important. Millions of mothers around the world experience tremendous hardships every day, and this Mother's Day, ChildFund aims to raise awareness of the challenges facing mothers in the countries in which we operate.
The Perils of Childbirth
Because of the wider availability of hospitals and health care, giving birth in developed countries is much safer than in developing nations. Every day, around 800 women die in childbirth or pregnancy. For every woman who dies in childbirth, 20 more will develop serious complications. According to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals report published last year, more than 287,000 women died in childbirth in 2010 alone.
In some countries where ChildFund works, maternal mortality is a serious problem. In Timor-Leste, for example, one in every 35 women are at risk of dying due to pregnancy complications. Infant mortality rates in Timor-Leste are among the highest in Southeast Asia, at 44 out of every 1,000 live births. Malnutrition and a lack of skilled health care professionals mean that, for many women in Timor-Leste, childbirth is particularly dangerous.
To combat this problem, ChildFund's initiatives in Timor-Leste focus on providing education about wellness and nutrition to expectant mothers, as well as training volunteers in the community to identify and prevent health conditions that can endanger the lives of pregnant women.
Honduras is another country where maternal mortality rates are high, about 280 deaths out of 100,000 live births. In rural communities, the nearest health clinic can often be a several hours' walk away, which limits expectant mothers' access to essential care and support. For this reason, ChildFund introduced an initiative to provide health care services to pregnant women by traditional birth attendants.
These guides support women throughout their pregnancy by helping them prepare a birthing plan. This program has proven extraordinarily successful, as child and maternal mortality rates decreased by 50 percent between 2006 and 2010, and delivery rates in Honduran hospitals rose from 35 to 50 percent during the same period.
The care and support mothers receive does not end with birth, however. After successfully delivering their children, Honduran mothers are assisted by health monitors, specially trained volunteers who educate families on everything from nutrition to the prevention of diseases. Children who are identified as being at risk of malnutrition and other conditions are referred to health huts, where they receive nutritional assistance and other support.
Child and maternal mortality rates are particularly high in many African nations, especially Ethiopia. The situation is so serious that every year, more than 472,000 Ethiopian children die before their fifth birthday. ChildFund came to Ethiopia in 1972, and to date, we have helped more than 1 million people through a variety of initiatives.
"I will never forget the day I joined the project," says a young woman who was helped by ChildFund. "I have received nutritional support for my children and training that helped me and my family to survive. I am happy with all my family, and our dark life has been changed to bright future with the help of ChildFund Ethiopia."
This Mother's Day, bring hope to mothers around the world by purchasing a gift from our Gifts of Love & Hope catalog. With so many ways to give, you can help ChildFund protect the lives of women in some of the world's poorest countries and ensure they live to see their children grow up.