March for Mothers and Health Poverty Action’s work on Maternal Health

By taking part in a March for Mothers and raising money for Health Poverty Action you can strengthen women in some of the poorest regions of the world in their struggle for better health during pregnancy.

Health Poverty Action works to improve maternal health services for women in Sierra Leone, a country known as one of the worst places in the world to give birth because of the extremely high numbers of women that die during or just after childbirth.

Birth waiting homes for women in Sierra Leone

One of the ways Health Poverty Action strengthens women in Sierra Leone is through working with communities to improve access to health services for pregnant women for women who live in rural areas.

Sierra Leone is a dangerous place for a mother-to-be. The number of women dying due to complications in childbirth is among the highest on the planet. What should be a time of hope and joy is all too often a time of worry and, sometimes, tragedy.

Northern Bombali is one of the most remote areas of Sierra Leone. Here nearly a third of women find themselves over five km from the nearest health facility (which is why our March for Mothers is 5km. The daunting prospect of travelling these long distances, over difficult terrain, while in the late stages of pregnancy, means many are unable to make the journey. If they do manage to reach them, they find health centres that are small and unable to allow women to stay for very long. This means that the majority of rural women, with nowhere nearby to stay, do not travel to health facilities and instead give birth in unsafe conditions, putting both the mother and child at risk.

Health Poverty Action is working with communities to establish birth waiting homes close to health centres across the region. These will provide welcoming and supportive environments for pregnant women to stay at, and where they can then be referred to nearby health facilities. This will enable women who live furthest from health facilities to get the care and attention that they may otherwise have not been able to receive.

Suitable homes will be identified by local communities and rooms supplied with beds, linen, tables, washing equipment and clean clothes. A woman in each home will be trained as a ‘host’ to provide supportive care to women and to identify common signs of danger during pregnancy. Hosts will work together with local women and health workers to form a community-based referral network between the community, waiting homes and health centres.

This is an effective community-based way to ensure more pregnant women in rural areas are able to access essential health services at such a vital time.

 

Aminata Bangura’s story

Aminata Bangura lives in a village four miles away from a health centre. She is pregnant and she walked the four miles to reach the Birth Waiting Home because she had already had some problems during her pregnancy and she was told by a nurse she should be near a health centre.

If Aminata had not been able to stay at a Birth Waiting Home she may have had to make the four mile journey while in labour, or not have been able to get to a health centre at all. Now she can stay at the home, her family can visit her, and she is less fearful of going in to labour because she knows she is near the health centre.

It is unacceptable that many women do not have access to health services. Please march with us to raise awareness of this, and to raise money so that Health Poverty Action can work with more communities to find innovative solutions to health problems.

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