November 24, 2014
By Simon Chambers
When PWRDF and the Diocese of Bujumbura, its local partner, began the current program in Burundi, only 40% of the mothers gave birth at a medical facility. The project, co-funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) has a goal of increasing that figure to 60% over five years.
Before the PWRDF project began, 12% of babies died during delivery. In the last six months, less than one percent (4 of 474) of babies died during delivery. Dozens of babies are alive today who would not have been, thanks to the accompaniment of safe motherhood promoters and the work of medical professionals in Burundi.
During the six month period, 1358 women in the 29 villages covered by the program have been pregnant. All of them have been supported by safe motherhood promoters trained by the Diocese of Bujumbura. 442, or a staggering 94%, of the 474 births in the period took place at a medical facility under the supervision of a doctor, nurse or professionally trained midwife.
The safe motherhood promoters have also helped to ensure that the mothers and their babies are vaccinated. 930 of the mothers-to-be have been vaccinated, and 87% of the babies born in the six months have been vaccinated, a significant increase from the 60% of babies who were vaccinated before the project began.
The work of the promoters is not finished with the birth. Education and information are provided about nutrition, child spacing, sanitation, sexual and reproductive health, and hygiene. Groups of women have formed associations to promote the production of vegetables, providing extra food and income for their families.
Safe Motherhood Promoters are truly a gift to their communities, and they show the power of accompaniment to mothers and babies through the region.