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Posts Tagged ‘newborn death’

On Monday, I traveled with my colleague, Anupam Sarkar, a nutrition and newborn health expert and Project Advisor for the Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI), to Hudu, a small, hard-to-reach village amidst forest, steel plants, and roaming wild elephants. It took us nearly 2 hours from Jamshedpur, weaving around and cutting through steel plants and villages along bumpy and muddy roads–the same roads that pregnant women must travel on if they opt for institutional delivery. We were heading to Hudu to observe a Seraikela Chhau peformance.

Seraikela Chhau is a traditional form of dance that originates in the Seraikela block of Jharkhand, part of the eastern steel belt of India. Over the past six months, I have been working as a Clinton Fellow with the Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative in the Seraikela block. MANSI is a partnership between the American India Foundation, Tata Steel Rural Development Society, and the local government—with technical support from SEARCH. As part of our project activities, our team has recently coordinated a series of Seraikela Chhau performances that will combine the native dance form with key maternal and newborn health messages throughout the 174 villages of our project area.

When Anupam and I arrived in Hudu, we learned that a pair of twins had recently passed away in the village and we decided to visit the family before the performance began. We are conducting similar home visits for every maternal and newborn death that has been reported in our project area (spanning 174 villages) since the baseline survey was completed in 2009. The goal of the home visits is to gain a better understanding of the ground realities and knowledge gaps so that we can shape and inform the messages of the MANSI health communication campaigns in a way that meets the needs of the communities.

The local health worker guided us to the home where the twins had passed away. The parents were not at home–but we were able to meet with the paternal grandparents, Asha and Ganesh Sardar.

 

They shared their story…

The mother of the twins, Vilasi, is 28 years old. She and her husband, Ragdu, already had four children, all girls, and the family was  eager to have a boy. Soon they became pregnant with twins, one girl and one boy. All four of the previous children were delivered at home without complication–and the family assumed that this delivery would also be free of complications. They explained that they were unaware of the benefits of institutional delivery. When the twins were born, they seemed very small. Immediately following delivery, the mother put the babies to her breasts to feed them. They were weak and unable to suckle. Initially the family thought about giving them goat’s milk–but eventually decided to give sugar water (locally called Misri Pani). When it became clear that the babies were extremely weak and in critical condition, the family wanted to take the infants to the hospital but they had not anticipated the emergency. They were not prepared. They did not have a transportation plan or money set aside. One baby died the very same day–and the other died the following day.

We thanked the grandparents for sharing their story and asked them if it would be OK if we also shared their story with other communities. The grandparents agreed and the grandfather said, “After losing the twins, I have come to know about the importance of institutional delivery. Why not share our story and let others also come to know?”

It is tough to know precisely what led to the death of the twins—and if giving birth in a facility would have made a difference. But it is clear that many factors were stacked against them. The family was faced with poor roads, long distances to health centers, limited resources, combined with a lack of information at the community level about birth spacing and planning, care of low birth weight babies, danger signs, institutional delivery, and information on how to tap into government schemes that offer cash incentives for institutional delivery—all potential topics for future Chhau performances.

With the story of the twins on our minds, we returned to the center of the village to observe the performance.

With no electricity in the village, the performers rigged their loud speaker system to their vehicle battery. They began beating their drums and singing loudly, calling on community members to gather in the village center.

It did not take long for community members to gather, all curious to know what the commotion was about. They formed a crowd of boys and girls, and men and women of all ages. Soon the drumming and singing picked up pace, a performer dressed in a traditional colorful costume with a big mask jumped out from behind the vehicle, and the show began!

The performers acted out various situations, using dance and drama to cover several critical maternal and newborn health topics—with a focus on the importance of institutional delivery, birth planning/preparedness, and the five cleans of safe delivery. The audience watched with great enthusiasm.

As we traveled the bumpy roads away from Hudu, a jagged rock punctured our tire–delaying our return to Jamshedpur and reminding me of the numerous barriers that women face in accessing care. While we waited for the tire to get repaired, I thought of the twins and the grandparents who we interviewed. I also thought of the Chhau dance and all of the community members in attendance. That day, I witnessed the consequences of the various factors that were stacked against the twins. I also witnessed one strategy for building community awareness of critical maternal and newborn health information. I left feeling confident that the Chhau performance that we observed will help to equip the community of Hudu with key information about maternal and newborn health—and will serve as one of many important steps toward the overall goal of protecting the health of women and infants in the Seraikela block.

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The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative, the Maternal Health Task Force, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) invite you to attend (or watch online) the sixth event of the series, Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health: The Impact of Maternal Mortality and Morbidity on Economic Development. The event will take place on July 29th from 3-5pm in Washington, D.C.

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Event Details:

Investing in women and girls health is smart economics. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) women contribute to a majority of small businesses in the developing world and their unpaid work on the farm and at home account for one-third of the world’s GDP. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that maternal and newborn deaths cost the world $15 billion in lost productivity.

Mayra Buvinic, sector director of the gender and development group of the World Bank, will address the economic impact of maternal deaths and the role of education and gender equality on economic development. Dr. Nomonde Xundu, health attaché at the Embassy of South Africa in Washington DC will discuss the policy implications of maternal health and share lessons learned in empowering women and girl’s economic status in South Africa. Mary Ellen Stanton, senior maternal health advisor of USAID, will present the foreign policy and economic case for increased donor investment in maternal health.”

For more info and to RSVP, click here.

For info on future events and links to videos of previous events in the maternal health policy dialogue series, click here.

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Today, July 12th, marks six months since the devastating earthquake that shook Haiti earlier this year, killing more than 200,000 people.  An article, published today on Relief Web, outlines several of the components of the national health plan of the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population (with support from UNFPA) that was developed after the earthquake. The plan includes reviving the National School of Nurses and Midwives to reestablish midwifery training programs, working with UNICEF to set up clinics to provide skilled reproductive health services and basic emergency newborn care, supporting the Haitian Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to improve referral systems for maternal and neonatal services, and a variety of other activities to reduce morbidity and mortality among Haiti’s most vulnerable populations.

Relief Web

Excerpt from the article:

“…Life in the temporary camps poses a number of health challenges, especially for women and girls. Living in tight, often insecure quarters with minimal access to sanitation can expose women and girls to sexual violence and other dangers.

Over the past months, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has provided maternal health supplies, including birthing kits to serve a population of 2 million people, as well as 22,000 hygiene kits aimed at the female population living in temporary camps, along with nearly 1,000 tents, 2000 mattresses and 17,000 solar lamps…”

Click here for the full story.

For information on UNFPA’s work in Haiti, click here.

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Just a reminder! This event will happen this Thursday, April 29th!

The Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative and Environmental Change and Security Program, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have announced  the fourth event of the series on Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health.

MHTF Blog

The event, Family Planning in Fragile States: Overcoming Cultural and Financial Barriers, will be held on April 29th in Washington DC. Speakers include Nabila Zar Malick, Director of Rahnuma Family Planning Association of Pakistan; Karima Tunau, OB/GYN with Usmanu Danpodiyo Hospital; Grace Kodindo, Assistant Professor of Population and Family Health at Columbia University; and Sandra Krause, Reproductive Health Program Director with the  Women’s Refugee Commission.

“…Countries threatened by conflict rank lowest on maternal and newborn health indicators and have fewer resources for reproductive health services such as family planning and emergency obstetric care. Improving access to sexual and reproductive health services in fragile states may challenge cultural beliefs and gender relations within a country. Program managers, policymakers, and donors can mitigate these tensions through culturally sensitive approaches and increased female participation during peacebuilding efforts…”

For event details, information on how to RSVP , and information on how to watch the  live or archived webcast, read the full announcement here.

For more information on the series, click here.

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The Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative and Environmental Change and Security Program, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have announced  the fourth event of the series on Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health.

MHTF Blog

The event, Family Planning in Fragile States: Overcoming Cultural and Financial Barriers, will be held on April 29th in Washington DC. Speakers include Nabila Zar Malick, Director of Rahnuma Family Planning Association of Pakistan; Karima Tunau, OB/GYN with Usmanu Danpodiyo Hospital; Grace Kodindo, Assistant Professor of Population and Family Health at Columbia University; and Sandra Krause, Reproductive Health Program Director with the  Women’s Refugee Commission.
“…Countries threatened by conflict rank lowest on maternal and newborn health indicators and have fewer resources for reproductive health services such as family planning and emergency obstetric care. Improving access to sexual and reproductive health services in fragile states may challenge cultural beliefs and gender relations within a country. Program managers, policymakers, and donors can mitigate these tensions through culturally sensitive approaches and increased female participation during peacebuilding efforts…”

For event details, information on how to RSVP , and information on how to watch the  live or archived webcast, read the full announcement here.

For more information on the series, click here.

Read Full Post »