Family Care International Receives $8 Million Grant From The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation To Improve Women's Health
Jill Sheffield or Rebecca Casanova
NEW YORK -- Family Care International (FCI) today received a five-year, $8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the health of women in the developing world. The grant will support the "Saving Women's Lives: Skilled Care During Childbirth" program in up to four countries. The program's goal is to increase rates of skilled attendance at delivery as a means of reducing death and disabilities caused by pregnancy-related complications.
"One woman dies every minute from complications of pregnancy and childbirth," said Jill Sheffield, President of Family Care International. "Most of these deaths occur during or shortly after delivery, and almost all could be prevented by quality, professional care."
On average, only about half of deliveries in the developing world take place with a qualified health professional (midwife, nurse or doctor) in attendance, and in many countries, rates are less than 20 percent. Data from around the world indicate, however, that skilled attendance at delivery has a direct and significant impact on reducing maternal death. Specifically, skilled attendants perform the following critical functions:
- Ensuring that all deliveries are conducted hygienically and according to accepted medical practices;
- Identifying complications promptly and managing them appropriately - either by treating or referring them to a higher level of medical care;
- Providing high-quality, culturally appropriate, and considerate care;
Ensuring necessary follow-up and linkages with other services, including prenatal/postnatal care as well as family planning.
FCI will use funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work with both local and international partners. FCI will implement a focused strategy of advocacy, training, strengthening local capacity and community education to improve the quality of delivery services and to increase their availability and utilization in three to four countries. Intervention to be supported at the country level will include:
- Conducting national advocacy to strengthen government commitment to the goal of skilled attendance at delivery and to clearly articulate policies to promote this goal;
- Improving midwifery training and deployment through revised training, curricula, stronger training institutions, and deploying midwifery and nursing personnel in underserved areas;
- Ensuring a "supportive environment" for midwifery care through the provision of essential supplies, equipment, infrastructure and by strengthening supportive supervision;
- Strengthening linkages for referral to ensure that complicated cases reach an appropriate facility;
- Supporting community awareness and action by implementing education and outreach activities that ensure women and their families are aware of the importance of skilled attendance during delivery, and will take the necessary actions to make it happen.
"We believe skilled care during childbirth is an essential component of efforts to improve women's health in the developing world," said Sheffield. "We hope to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach and encourage its adoption in a range of countries, thereby making a significant contribution to reducing needless death and suffering."
Family Care International is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to improving women's sexual and reproductive health in developing countries, with a special emphasis on making pregnancy and childbirth safer. FCI addresses a range of urgent health issues, including maternal health, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, family planning, unsafe abortion and violence against women. FCI works with governments, non-governmental organizations, and international agencies in more than 12 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. For more information, visit Family care international on the web.