Community Relations Can Improve the Health of Mother and Baby

A series of studies revealed that the old saying “It takes a village to raise a child” may be more contemporary than ever before. The study conducted under a pilot three years program sponsored by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, proved that community involvement is critical for the survival of both the mother and the child in developing countries.

Community Relations Can Improve the Health of Mother and Baby

High Mortality Rates

In Ethiopia the main health issue is neonatal care, as newborn’s death rate is one of the country’s major concerns. High mortality rates are found in newborns, children under five, pregnant women and newly mothers. Talking numbers, 650 out of 100.000 childbirths end with the baby’s death. In US there are 13 deaths to 100.000 births. Back in Africa, 18.000 pregnant mothers lose their life annually, out of 2.7 million total of pregnancies.

Small Improvement Over Years

Statistics reveal there was a small improvement in the decrease of neonatal deaths between 2000 and 2011. Initially, there were 49 deaths out of 1.000 in 2000 and the number gradually decreased to 37 deaths in 2011, which is a small rate of improvement.

However, Ethiopia had managed to reduce the mortality rate in children under 5 years of age by two thirds. Reputed specialist Frances E. Likis highlights that 63% of all Ethiopian babies die prior to celebrating two months of age and 42% of children under five die prematurely.

The Solution

The efforts to reduce maternal mortality in Ethiopia can only be effective with the involvement of the entire community. Mothers could be helped to prevent miscarriages, childbirth deaths and premature childhood deaths by the neighbors, relatives and local doctors. Special programs which teach mothers how to care for their offspring have been developed and can raise awareness in communities.

Community-based interventions are the first step in reducing mortality in Africa as rural population can only be helped by the local healthcare providers. As the means of communication are poor, word of mouth is the most effective way to get the information to expectant mothers and their relatives.

Articles Published on the Subject

A collection of eleven articles has been published by the “Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health” which show the results of the pilot program and aim to improve healthcare in rural Ethiopia by three main activities. The program’s founders try to improve healthcare services offered to pregnant women by their newborns, improve the capacity of frontline healthcare workers and increase the demand for focused maternal care.


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