This statistic is heartbreaking. As a mother, this is a subject that brings me to tears, more than I ever expected it would. I have three beautiful, healthy children but when I consider the complications we endured during their deliveries, I realise that if we weren't so blessed to live in Australia, I would've ended up as one of those statistics. More than likely, my children would have too. I retained products with all three and haemhorraged with two. It doesn't take much to kill you if you don't have the right medical support.
To put this into perspective, as Australians we have a one in 13 000 chance of suffering fatal birth complications. In Niger - the nation with the world's highest maternal death rate - women's chances of death are one in seven**. One in seven! Think about your girlfriends, sisters, mother... one in seven is a very high ratio. Some communities in countries with similar statistics won't name their children until they reach five. Why? It hurts less that way.
Stories telling of families torn apart by maternal mortality abound. To read the stories of two women who, until now were voiceless, click here. New Internationalist devoted a whole (heartbreaking) section of their March 2009 issue to the subject. Compassion has just launched a new arm Rescue Babies Now and features story after story of women and children saved through vital medical and practical intervention and education.
The reality is, as women and/or mothers we're the most likely group to feel for these women and their children, enough to want to do something about it. Realistically and unfortunately, most of us can't fly over and work in the fields for months on end or donate large amounts of money.
We must not feel powerless.
A real sense of empowerment came when I clicked on to Rescue Babies Now and saw the programs they have set up:
$100 ensures that a woman has access to a skilled attendant during the birth of her child.
$63 can provide a Survival Specialist with a backpack filled with the supplies needed to care for mums and babies. Some items included are: First aid kit, scale, sanitation supplies, oral rehydration therapies, bible, age-appropriate toys, books, soap, towels, etc.
$52 ensures a child has access to all needed vaccinations up through their 4th birthday.
$44 provides a month worth of food and/or nutritional supplements to ensure that mums and babies are not malnourished (although costs vary per country, $44 is the average amount needed to provide for the nutritional needs of one mum and one baby for one month).
In our household, we don't have much extra to give but this issue is really important to me as a mum and as a woman. I feel that I have a responsibility to my international 'sisters' to do the right thing by them and fight for their lives and those of their children.
If you'd like to support these women and their beautiful children, please visit my secure
fundraising page (I'm trying to raise enough money to supply professional maternal medical assistance to 10 women) or donate directly to Rescue Babies Now.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about the sadness surrounding this topic. Even by just reading through this, you're helping alleviate the problem.