Every day, approximately 386,000 babies are born. Of these, over 90 per cent will be born in countries where there still isn’t enough access to medical care, leaving them at risk of illness, disease and death. But support from UK aid is changing this, providing vital services in maternal and neontatal care.
Safer births in Uganda
Abalo Doroti, 64, washes her granddaughter, in Gulu, Uganda. The three-day-old baby is the first child of Adong Prossy, Abalo's 19-year-old daughter. After a Caesarian section to deliver the baby, Adong's wounds needed treating at the VSO supported postnatal ward in Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda.
Improving care in Nepal
Two-year-old Laxmi sits on her mother, Kanchi's knee during a checkup with VSO volunteer Dr Harry Lynch.
Laxmi burnt her hand when she fell onto an open flame stove during the April 2015 earthquake. Since then, VSO has set up a new neonatal care unit in Dhading. Over 400 new mothers and over 500 children have directly benefited from VSO’s health interventions in the region.
Improving midwifery in Cambodia
Soun Hir, 38, is a mother of five children in Cambodia. She had been pregnant eight times and had three miscarriages. The last time, she was pregnant and lost a baby it was almost due. She said, "One day I felt hefty pain and I lost a lot of blood. Unfortunately, my job was very far from the nearest health center and I was not in time to save the baby. It was very sad."
When she fell pregnant again, Soun was under the watch of VSO volunteer midwife Ans Ohms.
"I was glad of it, because I was very afraid it would go wrong again. Thankfully, delivery went well. Thanks to adequate care at the health center, I was able to hold my son Pou in my arms after labour that lasted eight hours.'
Special care for newborns in Uganda
Akanyo Proscovia, 18, gazes lovingly at her newborn daughter.
Akanyo gave birth in a rural health centre but when she took the baby home she discovered a swelling on her child and so bought her to Gulu regional referral hospital. The baby is now being cared for in the full-term neonatal recovery room by VSO volunteer paediatrician Gerieke Zandberg.
Safer pregnancies in Ethiopia
Asquale Atsbaha laughs during her last week of pregnancy, waiting to deliver at Mulu Asefa Hospital in Tigray, Ethiopia.
Globally, pregnancy-related complications account for five million maternal deaths. Ethiopia is one of six countries which have contributed to more than 50% of all maternal deaths across the world. VSO’s Maternal Waiting Homes – centres for mums-to-be – provide a safe space for women to stay together before their birth, access midwifery services and be easily moved to the delivery ward in case of emergency.
For mums and babies around the world, access to safe hospitals and trained staff is ensuring the joy of birth remains long after a baby is born.
Bill Carr, 67, has been watching the attacks on UK Aid from his placement in the north of Pakistan with concern. He explains the difference he’s seen it make with his own eyes.