In the United States we have some strange ideas about what makes childbirth safer. We unthinkingly believe that the way to save more mothers and babies in the world is to export our American way of doing business. While I do believe that we have much to offer, as a cultural anthropologist I always take the stance that listening (rather than telling) is a best first step. Across the globe, voices have called out for more locally-trained childbirth experts. The best word to describe what villages in Haiti and women in Windhoek, Namibia and what doctors in Jamkhed, India (see khhttp://www.jamkhed.or) say they want is MIDWIVES. While better hospitals and neonatal intensive care units would certainly be great, midwives are the best first investment we can make. Midwives save lives. And like the local health experts in Jamkhed, India have proven, training local women for this job improves the health of the whole community, not just the health of newborns. Here’s a message from the president of MANA (Midwives of North America):
Dear MANA Member,
I would like to reiterate a few facts about mothers and babies.
In the world’s poorest countries mothers risk their lives giving birth. Every year, an estimated 358,000 women die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Each year, 8.1 million children die before their fifth birthday, and an estimated 1.2 million babies are stillborn. Most of these deaths are preventable.
As you may know, the Midwives Alliance is a member organization of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, an international coalition that pushes for change to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for women and newborns around the world. We support the work they are doing, and we encourage you to sign the petition [here] to persuade world leaders to invest in midwifery care. It only takes a minute to click and sign.
Thank you for supporting this growing global movement for safe motherhood and for encouraging world leaders to invest in midwifery care as the key solution to meeting maternal and newborn healthcare needs.
MANA President & Interim Executive Director