Oxfam/Mumsnet trip to Malawi to highlight maternal mortality. Make your views known/ask any questions you'd like answered(128 Posts)
Following earlier initiatives like the blanket squares and a couple of trips to Downing Street, Oxfam have asked us to go with them on a fact-finding/press trip to Malawi to highlight the massive problem of maternal mortality. The reason they've asked us to do this is because of your political clout and, as the election approaches, they're looking for ways of keeping this issue on the political agenda.
If you know/agree with the arguments about why healthcare should be free for women and children, and Western governments should be held to account over the promises they made at the start of this Millennium, then please sign up to the Million Mums Campaign (if you haven't already) and add a comment to this thread, even if it's just to say you've signed up. There'll be another call to action around Mother's Day in March.
If you're undecided or have specific questions you'd like to ask Oxfam, or DFID - the Department for International Development - then please post them here too. During the trip we'll be meeting people who have been directly affected by maternal death, plus midwives, Oxfam workers, the Minister for Health and a representative from DFID, so there should be plenty of opportunities to get questions answered.
In Malawi, on average 1 woman in every 100 will die in pregnancy or childbirth, that's around 14 women every day. In 2000 both rich and poor nations committed to reducing maternal mortality rates by 75% by 2015. In the last 10 years there has been no improvement, but the goal is completely achievable if there is sufficient political will.
The trip starts on Sunday and - computer access allowing - we'll be reporting back on what we've seen and who we've met - so watch this space and do please feel free to post comments and questions here.
this should be a stickie ?
bumping for the evening crew
I've signed up. Will be interesting to follow the trip.
What exactly are the relevant promises that Western Governments made that they haven't made good on?
Comic Relief did something on this last year. I remember watching the video at the time, think it was the one here:
Sorry meant to sticky - will do so now.
lljkk - the rich countries of the world committed (in 2000) to increase aid spending to 0.7% of GDP by 2015 and to act urgently to meet the global financing gap for health (estimated at US$37 billion, including US$10.2 billion of it to scale up maternal, newborn and child health interventions). This is currently not happening.
The current UK government has actually provided fantastic support to Malawi in recent years with positive results. A new health plan for Malawi is under development and Oxfam think there's a risk that if the UK lowers its support in the future, important gains will be lost. So they want the UK government to recommit to high levels of financial and technical assistance to the Malawi government to help them achieve health care for all.
BradSplit. I am going on behalf of Mumsnet
LeninGrad thanks for signing up and for the link. It's incredibly powerful and I'd urge anyone wavering in their support to watch it. Not sure how much use I am going to be out there as just blubbed my way through it.
I'll sign up for this. Well done MN for your involvement in this project, I will keep an eye on what's going on.
Just as a shocking aside, did you know that the USA ranks 47th in the world for maternal mortality?
Yep, I'm afraid it'd all be too much for me. All you can do is raise awareness and try and get something done.
Whilst you're there I'd be really interested to hear about anything and everything around pregnancy, breastfeeding and labour. Try and talk directly to women if you can, too many of these things focus on what the providers think is needed and no-one seems to ask the women what they think and feel about it all and what they'd like to see happen.
above link is to the Millennium Development Goal 5, which is to reduce maternal mortality by 3/4 and acheive universal access to reproductive health
these goals were signed up to by all governments at the UN in 2000, all interlinked goals aimed at reducing extreme poverty (others include universal primary education, decrease infant mortality and increase women and girls access to education and government)
they were set as achievable goals, target date 2015
progress has been reasonable to good in some areas but sadly not in sub saharan Africa
From Oxfam and co I am interested in: why Malawi in particular?
Is the rate of maternal mortality significantly higher in Malawi than in other African nationas, or indeed any other third world countries?
If Malawi does have a significantly higher maternal mortality rate than other African nations, are lessons to be learned from their African neighbours?
Good luck on your travels Carrie.
Speedy - may have something to do with lack of access to free healthcare for mothers and children. Don't know heaps about the US system but do know you can really suffer if you don't have insurance. Agree it's unbelievable and one of things that struck me when we went to Downing Street with pregnant women. Oxfam were talking about 6 new countries in third world aiming to offer free health care. There were a couple of Americans with us and they were so full of praise for the NHS it made you feel bad moaning about it (though of course we still did )
LeninGrad - will certainly do my best to ask what I can. The first day's activities currently stand as: "the team will visit and interview a family that has experienced a maternal death, an orphan (as a result of maternal death), a mother who lost a child in child birth. If I can still speak after that I will ask what I can.
One of the stats is there are only 252 doctors for the entire population of 13 million, with fewer health workers per person than Sudan. So think provision of trained health care professionals is obviously key.
Bibbity - think Malawi is particularly bad, but has had some success with the resources it has had and the Gov is trying hard, so think they want to show what can be done - but will certainly ask them and report back. Thanks for good wishes.
Carrie - yup, you're right re US. However, although it's only anecdotal, the only mother I've ever known to die in childbirth was in the US - and she had lovely health insurance. I am so glad to never have to give birth there.
I've signed up.
Can you take a video camera and make a short film of your trip Carrie?
Am trying to make my daughter's flip camera work at the moment - family vid camera not cooperating and not sure how easy it would be to keep it charged up... Oxfam also taking a flip camera and think there will definitely be an official photographer on some of days, so hope to be able to have a record if it all.
Thanks for signing up - and do please encourage as many folks as possible to do the same. It costs nothing to sign.
carrie - I know your role will be as observer/witness/overall voice-raiser but you might want to look at some of Amnesty's work on maternal mortality. many people don't realise that human rights law covers far more than freedom of expression and torture, covering also issues around, health, reproductive rights and, of course, discrimination. The strength of using human rights arguments is that this isn't just about fairness, or charity, or, even, morals. it's about rights and justice and, importantly, government obligations. Amnesty's first report on the issue was on Sierra Leone - here. Oxfam, does, of course, use a rights-based approach to all its work - but the development and hr sectors are still working out how they relate to one another and how to, as it were, use each other.
I'd like to hear if there is any plan to train local people to provide basic safe birth - to back up the medical teams. In reality I am guessing that birth with untrained but experienced local women in attendance will be normal culture. Some basic information on control of bleeding and basic measures to reduce infection might help those in the most vulnerable situations.
I'd be interested to know if there is access to simple life saving drugs like syntometrine and antibiotics.
general points about the relevance of hrs - maternal mortality is all too frequently tied up with issues around women/girl's education, power over resources, and roles in the family. If you don't have money and/or education you can't/won't travel to hospital if something goes wrong. also you don't have power over getting pg in the first place - early pregnancy and maternal mortality are linked. education (of men/boys as well) is absolutely crucial to tackling the causes of mm.
How do women die in childbirth? Is it infection post natally, loss of blood, babies born prematurely?
Seems to me that the comparison probably shouldn't be the USA as far as maternal mortality, but similar African countries with similar health care issues. The difference is that in the USA, one can get access to medical treatment, just that one may go bankrupt in the process. In Malawi, there is not the luxury of even having access to such health care.
I'm guessing in areas of limited medical access it would be the old enemies of massive postnatal bleeding and postnatal infection. I don't know that for sure in this case. There would also be abruption due to obstructed labour, and infection at all stages.
Have signed up to the campaign.
1 in 100 women dying in pregnancy / childbirth statistic is quite sobering isn't it - if those stats applied in this country we'd all know someone who was one of those stats, or be one ourselves.
ilovemydog - I wasn't making a comparison with the US, I was making a shocking observation.
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