Every year at least 350,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth. Strip away education, class and skin colour and the realities of childbirth, its pain and its risks are the same for women all over the world. Here in the west we are the lucky ones, and maternal mortality is something we read about mostly in history books. For many women it is still a real threat today. As most deaths are caused by blood loss and infection, simple and timely interventions can save lives.
Maternity Worldwide Denmark is an organisation dedicated to reducing the rates of maternal mortality, and in particular the plight of the women in the third world. With the Integrated Maternal Health Project in Western Ethiopia, MWW aims to improve women’s social and economic conditions and protect their reproductive health rights. The plan is to document this experience into a working model to be replicated in other areas around the world.
MWW is marking Mothers’ Day this Sunday (13 May 2012) with a campaign about their new and exciting mobile phone project called ‘Wired Mothers’. It will come as no surprise to learn that for the expectant and labouring mothers of rural Ethiopia there is limited access to healthcare when complications arise. It comes as no surprise either to hear that in those circumstances the health risks of pregnancy and childbirth are multiplied. What is surprising is the discovery that many of these women do have access to mobile phones! MWW is now looking to use the mobile phone boom in Africa as a tool to save lives.
Imagine a clinic where a woman can register her pregnancy (and her mobile phone number) and be given a number to contact in case of unusual symptoms or early labour. Imagine a text message to remind an expectant mother of symptoms to look out for or to advise of warning signs. Imagine a woman in labour with no medically trained health personnel around, but verbal instructions relayed by telephone to deal with an emergency until help arrives. Imagine a midwife in a rural clinic faced with an unusual labour situation and no specialist expertise, but with an obstetrician talking her through emergency procedures. Imagine the lives that could be saved.
Pilot studies are taking place in Tanzania to find out in real terms the difference that using mobile phones to connect women with health professionals could make. Here in Denmark, you can show your support for MWW’s ‘Wired Mothers’ campaign by buying a limited edition cover for your iPhone. Designer Christian Stadil, the man behind Hummel and Company Karma, has designed an exclusive phone cover bearing the words ‘saving lives in childbirth’. Buy yours at your local TDC store or at TDC online and support this amazing work.
Det må ikke koste liv at give liv! (It shouldn’t cost life to give life).