© Barbara Grover, 2008

The pervasive poverty, hunger, disease and war which have plagued sub-Saharan Africa for decades is particularly cruel to women and young children. These threats to a women’s survival are exponentially increased during pregnancy and the infancy of the newborn. In sub-Saharan Africa 1 in 13 women will die of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In addition to the maternal mortality rate, the neonatal mortality rate in Central Africa is a staggering 74 per 1,000 live births. This indicates that each year approximately 3.7 million children who survive the dangers of delivery will die within the first 28 days of life.

© Barbara Grover, 2008

Infection is a leading killer of both women and newborns. This risk can be entirely eliminated if aseptic techniques are respected and early signs of infection are recognized and treated. Tetanus is particularly deadly to both mothers and newborns in sub-Saharan Africa. Unclean delivery will often result in maternal tetanus. Neonatal tetanus is caused by unhygienic care of the umbilical cord. In addition to tetanus women who deliver in unclean environments and their newborns are highly susceptible to secondary infections that lead to life threatening diarrhea and respiratory infection. While the causes of poverty and strife in the region are complex, simple, small measures can be taken in order to reduce the threat of death to both women and children following delivery.

Research has proven that proper management of the cord, temperature control of the newborn, skin-to-skin contact and immediate breastfeeding can dramatically reduce infection rates.

The birth kit contains the essential elements required for a clean birth: A clean, disposable surface on which to sit or lay, a bar of soap, a clean string to tie the umbilical cord and a clean razor to cut the umbilical cord. In addition, our kits include clear illustrated instructions that can be understood by family or TBA (Traditional Birth Attendants) on how best to manage a clean delivery.

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