Why Maternal Health?

Skilled care, before, during and after childbirth, saves the lives of women and their newborn babies.

Almost all maternal deaths (99%) occur in developing countries. About 800 women die from pregnancy – or childbirth-related complications around the world every day. More than half of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Maternal mortality is higher in women living in rural and remote areas.

The maternal mortality ratio in developing countries in 2013 was 230 per 100,000 live births versus 16 per 100,000 live births in developed countries. The risk of maternal mortality is highest for adolescent girls under 15-years-old. Further, if a mother dies, then any orphaned children have a 10 times increased chance of dying before the age of five. 

The programs run by Valerie and Andrew also address Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC)* – which includes birth-related injuries such as obstetric fistula*. However there are an estimated two million women in Africa with existing untreated fistula injuries sustained because they could not reach help in time. Dr Andrew Browning and his teams run outreach fistula camps in many African countries to relieve some of this terrible burden. In the AFAR region, an education program to reduce the traditional practise of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has long been championed by Valerie, and is now gathering further traction in a partnership with the United Nations.

Sydney Morning Herald: Princess Mary Makes Humanitarian Visit to Ethiopia

*Eradicated in the first world in the late 1800’s, obstetric fistula is a severe injury that can occur to a woman in childbirth caused by an obstructed labour. In the developed world, the injury would be prevented by a caesarean section. This intervention is often unavailable to many women in remote and poor regions and they can labour for up to 10 days causing terrible injury, usually a stillborn child, and in the worst cases, death. Often women go untreated for years, suffering ongoing pain, degradation and isolation. Dr Andrew Browning is considered one of the leading obstetric fistula surgeons in the world. Fistula injuries are treated at Kivulini Hospital, Tanzania, and the Barbara May Maternity Hospital, Mille, Ethiopia, and Andrew undertakes fistula camps in many African countries.

In 2019, Dr Andrew Browning AM was appointed Chairman – Committee for Fistula and Genital Trauma, International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics

How can you help?

Programs supported wholly or in part by the Barbara May Foundation include:

. The building and operations of the Vision Maternity Care Hospital in Barhir Dar, Ethiopia.
. The operations of the Barbara May Maternity Hospital in Mille, Ethiopia.
. Kivulini Maternity Centre – Maternity Africa, Tanzania. This centre provides obstetric services and an extensive fistula repair program which includes significant outreach programs.
. Midwife Training Programs
. Tertiary education of local medical professionals.