The United Nations released a report today entitled “Motherhood in Childhood” to spotlight the alarming rates of teen pregnancies in the developing world – 7.3 million every year. Of this number, 2 million are to girls 14 and under. Young girls can suffer harmful physical consequences from births their bodies have not yet developed to handle, not to mention the fact that giving birth and caring for a child often puts an end to their educations. The report urges governments to prioritize ending teen motherhood by increasing funding and working to change societal norms that place blame on young women for becoming pregnant.
In October, Saving Mothers’ Jessica Oliveira and Valerie Gruhn worked in Lake Atitlan to expand our programs in Guatemala. Here are some highlights of their work:
1) Meet Concepcion Mendoza, Saving Mothers’ first full-time on-the-ground staff starting 2014.
2) Home prenatal visits with Juana, a traditional birth attendant (comadrona).
3) SM’s team gave a lecture on family planning to health educators and auxiliary nurses at our partner clinic.
4) They also distributed over 200 birth kids and taught traditional birth attendants about best birth practices.
5) Jessica and Valerie attended a home birth with Juana, a comadrona, using the Saving Mothers’ clean birth kit.
It has been a productive trip and we look forward to implementing a 16-week curriculum for the comadronas in 2014 as well as building our Guatemala programs and partnerships.
In case you hadn’t heard, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by Taliban members on her way home from school, was awarded the Children’s Peace Prize today. The Children’s Peace Prize is awarded each year by a Dutch foundation to honor the achievements of an inspirational child activist. Malala has worked tirelessly to promote education for girls all the world over; her strength and bravery are truly inspirational. So exciting to see her recognized for what she has accomplished at such a young age!
Today the Centers for Disease Control released a report that reveals promising signs with regards to rates of childhood obesity in the US. For the first time in years, there is evidence of a national decline in childhood obesity. Curbing childhood obesity has been a serious challenge in the US for decades; according to the CDC, preschoolers who are overweight or obese are five times as likely as other children to be overweight or obese as adults, making them more likely to develop serious long term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. The recently published report shows that among low-income preschoolers, obesity rates declined slightly in 19 of 43 states and territories, remained constant in 21 states, and increased slightly in 3 states.
Still, while it’s exciting to see that some progress is being made, childhood obesity is still a major issue. Approximately 12% of preschoolers are obese (1 in 8) and the numbers are worse for African American and Hispanic children: about 1 in 5 (19%) African American children and 1 in 6 (16%) Hispanic children between the ages of 2 and 5 are obese. As First Lady Michelle Obama stated, "While this announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all our children."
It seems everyone has been going crazy the past few days over the birth of baby George, Prince of Cambridge. While the birth of a healthy baby boy is certainly cause for excitement, the Huffington Post also ran an article about some serious maternal and infant health issues and provided links for how you can get involved. The list includes maternal death, fistula, death from preventable disease, and transmission of HIV from mother to child at birth. It’s a somber reminder that while the birth of a new baby should be cause for nothing but joy, this isn’t the case for many women around the world. Take a look at the article and see if there are some ways you might want to get involved in improving maternal health today!
Last week, Remy Wamala Kasule - a senior Ugandan parliament employee - died in childbirth at the International Hospital Kampala (IHK). Ms. Kasule was 36 and a mother of four. The reports are harrowing- that Ms. Kasule requested a c-section and was denied; that she began to hemorrhage; that she was rushed into surgery after she had fallen into a coma; that the hospital failed to give her enough blood. Though the hospital has denied that it was reckless, Parliamentary officials believe otherwise. It is a terrible tragedy, a death that never should have happened. It is also a reminder to us at Saving Mothers of why we do the work that we do and a reminder of how far we have yet to go.
Saving Mothers continues to motivate, interest, and educate pregnant women on healthy lifestyle choices through our Lifestyle Modification Program.
Held at Mount Sinai’s OB/GYN clinic, this innovative program encourages overweight women, who at greater risk for operative deliveries and pregnancy-related diseases, to learn to make smarter and healthier decisions through fun and unique educational programming.
This time around, in an effort to highlight the importance of regular exercise, volunteers from Boston-based BOLLYX Fitness offered free dance classes for our pregnant mothers. This Bollywood-inspired dance-fitness class focuses on cardio exercise and isometric strength-training. Plus, it teaches patients that you can break a sweat and have fun at the same time!
BOLLYX co-founder Minal Mehta: “It was a thrill to bring a new cultural experience and promote healthy habits and fitness to the patients in the [Saving Mothers] LMP. Bollywood is all about expressing your inner joy, and it was rewarding to see the program participants’ faces light up to the music and dance.”
Saving Mothers President Nichole Young-Lin and BOLLYX Co-Founder Minal Mehta pointing us in the right direction.
Thank you to BOLLYX and all of our program volunteers for helping our pregnant women stay healthy and happy during this special time in their lives!
For more info on BOLLYX, click here.
For more info or to make a donation to Saving Mothers, please click here.
Women Deliver is an advocacy group that attempts to bring attention to the issue of women’s health and well-being around the globe. This week, from May 28-30, they’re hosting their 3rd Global Conference in Kuala Lumpur. Maternal health is a huge focus for the group, which is one of the reasons we wanted to share some information about this Conference here on the Saving Mothers blog.
Please take a minute to check out Women Deliver’s website- there’s all kinds of terrific information about the conference (speakers, participants, side events) as well as information about how the organization has worked to raise awareness for women’s health all around the world. This organization has really done an incredible job of reaching out and facilitating the partnerships that are necessary to improve global conditions for women and moving the dialogue forward.
We’ll be tweeting/Facebooking about some of the topics to come out of this conference over the next few days, so keep checking in!