By Nyreese Castro-Espadas, MD, MPH, CPH, Area of Focus Manager-Disease Prevention & Treatment, Maternal and Child Health
Maternal and Child Health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period, and the health of children under five.
According to the WHO, in developing countries, 1 in 45 women is at risk of dying from causes related to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care compared with 1 in 5,400 in developed countries. About 94% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, and 80% of them can be prevented with access to reproductive health services, prenatal care during pregnancy, skilled care during childbirth, and postpartum care. In addition, an estimated 5.2 million children under the age of five died mostly from preventable and treatable causes.
Rotary supports activities and training that improve maternal health and reduce mortality for children under age five. Our projects improve access to care, expand medical services, provide medical equipment, and train health care providers. Whether you’re planning a service project, partnering for a global grant, or even seeking to apply to the Programs of Scale grant competition, interventions should be evidence-based and community-centered.
Rotary members all over the world have been answering the call to action in maternal and child health: we’re training health care workers in India, installing maternal morbidity and mortality surveillance systems in Nigeria, and immunizing children against vaccine preventable diseases in the Pacific Islands.
Rotary remains committed to maternal and child health, and members can continue to take action by:
- Supporting training programs for health care professionals and community health workers
- Supporting projects that provide access to prenatal care in underserved and vulnerable communities
- Educating people about the need for prenatal health care early in pregnancy
- Supporting programs that provide immunizations against vaccine-preventable diseases for children under age five
- Providing information about and access to testing and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and support projects that work toward the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission while increasing access to testing and antiretroviral drugs
Rotary members can continue to engage the Cadre of Technical Advisers and Rotary Action Groups specializing in Maternal and Child Health, community based organizations addressing similar health needs, and empower community members to make informed decisions about their health.
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