March 2013 – In Uganda and Zambia – where women are dying at alarming rates due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications – Saving Mothers, Giving Life reports in its first program update that efforts to improve access to maternal care are making an impact.
Saving Mothers, Giving Life has partnered with local leaders to form and equip Safe Motherhood Action Groups and Village Health Teams to encourage women to deliver in health facilities where skilled health workers can address complications that may arise. Initial indicators reveal the early returns on these efforts:
Saving Mothers, Giving Life was launched in June 2012 with the goal of dramatically reducing maternal mortality in targeted districts in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 56% of maternal deaths worldwide. Merck for Mothers is a founding member of this public private partnership and supports on-the-ground program implementation and evaluation. Merck for Mothers is also helping to guide the initiative's strategic direction through its pivotal role managing the secretariat. Partners include the U.S. Global Health Initiative, the Government of Norway, Every Mother Counts, Project C.U.R.E., and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The initiative will expand to new districts in both countries later this year and is planning to begin work in Malawi.
For additional early indicators of progress, and more information about this innovative public-private partnership, review the first program update as well as highlights of a recent event sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promoted Saving Mothers, Giving Life and a video highlighted the initiative's importance in Zambia.