June 2011 Newsletter

Maternal Mortality in the News -Quicklinks


Dear friend, 

This month I am inspired by the people and groups I see, passionately striving for changes in the world. A powerful coalition of groups and strong public support has brought the need for more community health workers and midwives to the focus of the G8 summit. In Africa we see citizens demanding government responsibility for failing to protect the lives of their women in childbirth (see opposite).

Read on to learn more about Zambia, a country with many health system challenges, a place I visit often as part of the ongoing NASG project.

I invite you to support our work this month – in honor of your father for Father’s day. Donate online by June 17th and we will send him a special E-card on Father’s Day, letting him know of your support. Click here to read more.

As always, thank you for your support.

A Story from Zambia – a woman saved, a family protected 

Father and son

This is Joseph, he is from Zambia in Southern Africa. He lives with his wife Hope and their two boys. Joseph is a happy man. Although life can be hard, he is able to provide enough for his family to get by and they have each other. This was almost lost when Hope, after giving birth to their youngest son last year, started to hemorrhage and rapidly went into shock.

Luckily, Hope’s local clinic was one of 26 in the region where the Safe Motherhood Program has been working. We have been training staff in prevention and treatment of hemorrhage including use of the NASG which applies pressure to the lower body, pushing blood back up to the vital organs and decreasing blood loss. Hope was therefore quickly stabilized and was able to survive this dangerous complication.

Joseph knows that if Hope would have died his life would have been devastated. He knows that in families without a mother, newborns are more likely to die and surviving children suffer from ill health, stunted growth, and are more likely to drop out of school. Motherless children also suffer psychologically and socially. Joseph also knows that many households without mothers don’t survive, often with older children having to be sent to live with relatives with intact families. Yet every year hundreds of thousands of women die – this is a human rights violation with huge repercussions for the family and the community.

Joseph is thankful that groups like the Safe Motherhood Program endeavor to bring much needed innovative and inexpensive technologies and drugs to poor countries to reduce these deaths and save women like Hope.

Zambia images

Spotlight on Zambia 

The Republic of Zambia, a landlocked country in southern Africa, is home to 13 million people. Despite being a democratic republic, having natural resources, and being named as one of the world’s fastest economically reforming countries by the World Bank in 2010, Zambia has been unable to stop its women dying.

The major causes of maternal deaths in Zambia include excessive bleeding, infection, unsafe abortion, high blood pressure and obstructed labor. “Pregnant women who suffer from malaria, HIV/AIDs, TB, anemia and poor nutrition are more likely to die. Poverty, low levels of education, low status of women and violence against women in our society increases the risk of women dying in pregnancy and child birth,” said Dr Macha at Zambia’s University Teaching Hospital.

With a rate of 591 women dying for every 100,000 live births (lifetime risk of maternal death: 1 in 38), last year Zambia officially launched the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Zambia (CARMMA-Z) with the slogan “Zambia Cares: No woman should die while giving life.”


The Safe Motherhood Program has been working in Zambia for almost 4 years, training staff on prevention and treatment of hemorrhage – one of the main causes of deaths. To date, we have used our new technology, the NASG, on over 1500 women. While we are contributing to improvements, national commitment, financial support and raising the status of women must continue for lasting changes to be made in Zambia.