According to data gathered by the World Health Organization, approximately 830 women die each and every day due to completely preventable causes surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. Those days add up to over 300,000 women’s lives lost in a single year. 99% of those women live in developing countries. Political division and war are causing that number to skyrocket, and with so many refugees worldwide, accurate statistics that reflect just how great an increase are often impossible to obtain.
Doctors With out Borders is one organization that attempts to provide crucial medical services to refugee populations. Marjie Middleton, a midwife working with the organization on a reproductive health project for Syrian refugees, says that in addition to other factors such as inadequate nutrition and lack of access to health care
“…the combination of psychological and physical stress is very dangerous for their pregnancy.”
The psychological stress experienced by these women, many of whose husbands and other family members have been killed in war, is extreme. High blood pressure during pregnancy is among the most common reasons that women die in childbirth. Severe bleeding with no access to medical care is another.
Another danger to pregnant refugee women is the necessity of giving birth in unsterile conditions, which often results in deadly infections. This danger extends to their newborn infants as well. The World Health Organization reports that 4.5 million innocent children under the age of one year died in 2015 alone.
The Maternal Kit
Most mothers in developed countries prepare for the delivery of their children by creating a maternal kit. A maternal kit contains all the items expectant mothers will need to care for herself and her infant during the first days of life.
Many times, these items are received as gifts from family members and friends, and include such essentials as diapers and blankets. In countries in which hospital births are the norm, some of these items are also provided by the hospital. Hospitals also provide other things equally important for any maternal kit like sanitary conditions and medical assistance during delivery.
Many women in developing countries do not have access to regular prenatal care or the benefit of medical assistance during delivery for economic reasons. Those fleeing political oppression and war often lack a sanitary environment in which to give birth as well as even the most basic items necessary to care for her newborn infant after the delivery.
One charitable organization is dedicated to reducing the number of preventable deaths of mothers and their children caused by the lack of these basic necessities. To reduce the possibility of infection and severe bleeding during delivery, their maternal kit includes a plastic undersheet and an absorbent underpad, sterile gloves and a scalpel. For after the delivery, the maternal kit includes soap and a washcloth to clean the newborn infant, and a tunic, hat, and blanket for warmth. Each donation of $25 dollars can provide a maternal kit for an expectant mother in dire circumstances.
Many charitable organizations have come under fire in recent years due to allegations of corruption. Unfortunately, this has resulted in many people being reluctant to donate, suspecting that their money may be used to cover bureaucratic administrative expenses or fund lavish fundraising parties. Scandals such as the $500 million in missing donations to the Red Cross after the earthquake in Haiti have resulted in watchdog organizations that monitor charities. For example, the Charity Navigator is an organization dedicated to increasing the financial transparency of charitable organizations. To help people donate wisely, they make public the financial details of charitable organizations, including information regarding how much is spent on administrative salaries.
According to their data, IMA World Health, spends 95.7% of donations on programs such as the one that creates and distributes the potentially life-saving maternal kit for expectant mothers. CARE is another organization devoted to reproductive health and decreasing maternal and infant mortality around the world. What greater gift is there than to bring to an expectant mother than the gift of life itself?