The vast majority of maternal deaths are avoidable with basic education and the improvement of reproductive health care. Unfortunately, Official Development Assistance spending for family planning has declined consistently, making up only 2.6% of the total
ODA spending in 2009. Of all the Millennium Development Goals, improvement of maternal health is the least funded and is making little progress.
A mother and child in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo by Claire Ladavicius.
Nearly 50 million women, predominantly those who lack education or live in rural areas, give birth at home each year without trained support. 70,000 girls die each year in labor and teenage mothers have a 60% higher risk of their child dying or suffering from malnutrition. Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die during childbirth than women in their twenties.
Only 1 in 5 women in Sub-Saharan Africa use contraceptives and globally more than 120 million women (aged 15 -49) cannot delay or avoid pregnancy due to a lack of contraceptives while 40% of all pregnancies are unintended, with higher rates among poor, young, uneducated women.
A lack of educational services contributes to keeping women out of school and out of the marketplace, further increasing the health risks for themselves and their children.
Women who are educated about reproduction and reproductive health are able to make better decisions for their families, make better use of existing social services, and make a higher contribution to household income. Furthermore, women with some formal education are more likely to ensure that their children are immunized and are better informed about nutrition.
How You Can Help Provide Maternal Education
Maternal education is one of the most essential and most underfunded promoters of child health. You can help children and their mothers around the world by donating to SOS Children's Villages. Your donation helps SOS provide preventative health care to give women the educational tools to keep themselves and their children healthy.
- $35 can pay for prenatal vitamins for 9 women
- $50 can give 83 malnourished mothers the essential vitamins they need
- $100 can train 10 mothers with the parenting skills needed to keep their children healthy
- $350 can provide 50 pregnant women with a year's worth of regular medical check-ups
Case Study in Maternal Education in Romania
“Some refused from the very beginning to use a birth control method. They used to say: “No, no, no, I do not want, I won’t have other children” - until a new pregnancy occurred. I told them at least to go for a medical consultation, and they accepted. This was a first step. They were informed of what they could do, what methods, what alternatives they have - at least now they know where to go.” -- National SOS Children’s Villages Program Coordinator, Bucharest
Despite reforms, economic growth and accession to the European Union in 2007, Romania still suffers the consequences of the social and economic policies pursued under the Ceausescu regime. When the former dictator was overthrown in 1990, children living in state orphanages were found to be malnourished and living in terrible conditions. Even today, Romania still has low levels of employment and wages, a large rural population and widening regional disparities in social and health service coverage. 13.8% of the population lives below the poverty line and health expenditure per citizen is the lowest in the European Union.
SOS Children’s Villages Romania initiated a program in 1999 in line with the government’s strategy to prevent poverty-related placement of children in state orphanages. It addresses poor and socially vulnerable families who are at high risk of being separated from their children. An SOS Social Center in Bucharest supported a total of 236 children and their parents in 2009. Over 90% of the participating families have an income below the minimum wage.
A girl and her mother at the SOS Social Center in Hemeiusi, Romania. Photo by Ms. Katerina Ilievska.
The social center supports the families in improving their living conditions and increasing their access to social, educational and medical services in the community, with a view to developing their capacities to independently access services after leaving the program. Material and financial support is given according to needs, parents are offered training in parenting skills, children can participate in social activities to build their social-emotional skills, and the families receive social and psychological counseling. The center provides financial help where necessary to acquire medicines that are not paid for by the state. The center partners with facilities that offer family planning and birth control education. Approximately 60% of the mothers who accessed the family planning and birth control services started to use birth control methods.
Health conditions have improved and home visits have motivated parents to take better care of their health and improve hygiene. All families who leave the program are registered with a family doctor, benefit from free medical services, regularly have health check-ups and take their children to the doctor independently when medical problems occur.