Changemaker Muzalema Mwanza, founder of Safe Motherhood Alliance, Zambia, Africa
“With innovative local solutions, Changemaker Muzalema Mwanza and her team at Safe Motherhood Alliance contribute to making births safer — for mothers, newborns and health workers. A great project to support as part of our Covid-19 Aid Program”, says Christiane Hölscher, Global CSR Manager at Beiersdorf AG.
Reducing neonatal and maternal mortality
High rates of maternal and prenatal mortality in developing countries like Zambia indicate a crucial need for new and innovative interventions for pregnancy and neonatal care. The non-profit organization Safe Motherhood Alliance is reducing neonatal and maternal mortality in Zambia by positioning Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) as drivers of standardized and quality care.
The organization trains TBAs to become skilled practitioners so that they can provide safe and sterile childbirths. In doing this Safe Motherhood Alliance is addressing the three drivers of maternal mortality — lack of information, lack of access to health clinics, and the use of non-sterile supplies.
Empowering Traditional Birth Attendants
Founder Muzalema Mwanza is a Mandela Washington Fellow 2017 and has over five years’ experience working directly with rural communities focusing on education and gender empowerment. She is a professional civil engineer who is using her background to create sustainable communities in health and sanitation through the Safe Motherhood Alliance
To ensure that pregnant women have access to sterile tools, the organization has developed an innovative product called a“baby delivery kit” which contains all the essential supplies that a woman requires at childbirth. It includes items like a delivery mat, cotton, disinfectant, cord clamps and surgical gloves. The kits are distributed by the TBAs to the clinics and communities, creating safe and sterile conditions when the kit is properly used.
Avoiding transmission of Covid-19 during birth
During the COVID19-pandemic many pregnant women are facing impossible decisions due to the lockdown restrictions imposed in their country. These women are at the highest at risk of contracting the virus due to a lack of PPE in under-resourced clinics, as prices of imported essential PPE have substantially increased. To address these challenges of health inequalities, Safe Motherhood Alliance has developed and manufactured locally made PPE, created face masks with a 3D printer and assembled plastic face shield visors. These have been used in health settings to avoid transmission of Covid-19 between pregnant women and midwives or traditional birth attendants during birth.
Muzalema Mwanza: “With the support of Beiersdorf, Safe Motherhood Alliance will provide essential baby delivery kits and access to maternal health services for 12,000 pregnant women in fivelow-income communities and rural areas ensuring they give birth in safe and sterile conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic. We will also provide training to 50 additional traditional birth attendants working in these communities to effectively distribute much-needed resources and materials required for safe births and through increased production of PPE, we will be able to limit infections and continue working in high-risk areas. By doing this we are creating a triage of care and ensuring that pregnant women do not compromise their own safety and that of their newborns in under-resourced clinics and health facilities. In addition, we are also creating safe spaces within their own homes to deliver safely during a home birth.”
Beiersdorf supports Ashoka to fight COVID-19 consequences
COVID-19 keeps hitting the whole world hard — and its ultimate socioeconomic consequences cannot be foreseen today. With this in mind, Beiersdorf launched its global “Care Beyond Skin” aid program with a volume of 50 million euros at the very beginning of the crisis. The program comprises two pillars: immediate aid, and long-term support to fight the pandemic’s consequences. Among the long-term initiatives, Beiersdorf has set up partnerships with international NGOs, Ashoka being one of them. With the Beiersdorf funding, the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs is able to expand its “Changemakers United” initiative beyond Europe to Africa, Latin America and South Asia. The program promotes and supports social innovators whose ideas and ventures aim specifically at reducing the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19. Additional funding is provided to five social entrepreneurs within the Ashoka network, who contribute with their distinct and innovative approach to Beiersdorf’s mission and social focus area “Girls’ Empowerment.”
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