Mother and child health
All over the world, too many women and babies die during pregnancy, labour or shortly after childbirth. More than five million infants lose their lives each year before their fifth birthday. The SRC works in many countries to improve mother and child health through education, regular check-ups and medically assisted births.
Mothers and their babies in danger
Pregnancy and childbirth are a risk for women in poorer countries. Especially when they live in remote areas. Even though major progress has been made over the past 30 years, every day 830 women die during pregnancy and childbirth. Each year, 2.5 million children die during birth or in their first four weeks of life.
The main cause is a lack of proper healthcare. In many places, there are too few healthcare centres and they lack the right equipment. Often, they are just too far away. Poorer families cannot afford the journey or transport may not even be available. Many women are forced to give birth at home, without a trained midwife present. When there are complications, they are left to cope on their own. The risk of dying is twice as high as when there is a medically trained person present.
The greatest risk in the life of a girl or a woman in a developing country is pregnancy and childbirth.
Children need protecting too
Infants, not just babies, are also exposed to health risks. In their first five years of life, their immune systems are undeveloped. The lack of hygiene in poorer regions of the world means that children get sick more often. An imbalanced diet leaves children even weaker – they develop more slowly and are more prone to diseases. When there are no doctors or medicines available, even benign diseases, such as diarrhoea, quickly become life-threatening for a child. Each year, as many as 5.3 million children worldwide die before their fifth birthday. Most of these deaths are preventable.
GOOD TO KNOW
Major differences from region to region
Each year, 300,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth – 99% of them in developing countries.
In Africa, one in 13 children dies before the age of five – 15 times more than in Europe.
The SRC works to improve the health of women and children. We run mother and child projects in 14 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to help reduce maternal and infant mortality rates.
This work supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal ‘Health for all’ (SDG 3).
What we do
We run our mother and child projects in partnership with the local Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Our partners train local volunteers to reach out to the most vulnerable people in society. They know their culture the best and they are trusted by their community. This means we can achieve more.
Measures for safe births
Education: Volunteers make house calls and organize events. They educate women and their husbands on the importance of prenatal care.
Check-ups: Every woman attends four examinations during her pregnancy, and a medical check-up in the first week after giving birth.
Assisted births: Every woman gives birth in a healthcare centre.
Training: Midwives and healthcare staff are trained and given the right instruments.
Emergency transport: Village groups help to set up transport services for medical emergencies, such as complications during childbirth.
Measures for healthy children
Check-ups: Children are examined and weighed every month, so that developmental problems, such as undernourishment, are diagnosed early and can be treated.
Breastfeeding is encouraged so that babies are fed only breast milk during the first six months.
Healthy diets: Village groups are educated in nutrition and helped to plant community gardens. Nutritious food is particularly important for children.
Pregnancy gap: Women and their partners are educated about taking a break between pregnancies so that the mother’s body can rest.
Contraception: Access is provided to information and contraceptives.
Teen pregnancies: Teenagers are educated about menstruation, sexuality and contraception. Early teen pregnancy is dangerous for both the mother and child.
Insights into our projects
SRC achievements in 2021
In 15 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the SRC promotes health for mothers, babies and infants.
1,203 safe births were assisted by midwives.
395,407 mothers and children have received medical treatment.
Where we help
We help in the countries most affected by maternal and infant mortality. Thanks to local volunteers, we can even reach people living in remote villages.
In Laos, I visited a mother and child project and saw for myself just how much good healthcare means to people there. I’m really pleased to be able to support the SRC’s humanitarian work.
Laetitia Guarino, SRC ambassador