Every year nearly seven million children under the age of five die from preventable causes. And nearly 300,000 women die during pregnancy or from childbirth-related complications.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by these facts. Many of us look at the scale of these statistics and feel intimidated, even helpless in the face of them, and wonder what on earth we could do to make even a dent in the suffering. But World Vision’s vision is clear. They’re committed to improving the health and nutrition of women and children in the areas where they work. Presented with these facts World Vision hone in on that word ‘preventable’, and claim the words ‘every year’ to frame statistics of their own. World Vision New Zealand’s ongoing work in three communities in Cambodia clearly demonstrate it is possible to significantly improve the health of mothers and children, and contribute to the global reduction of under-five and maternal mortality.
In the Chi Kreng community, World Vision worked with three health centres and 54 local health support groups to ensure that mothers had their health checked before giving birth. Over a 12-month period nearly 900 mothers received at least four prenatal checks, and so far 90% of children have received vaccinations against infectious diseases.
In the Stong community the World Vision programme reaches 27 villages across three communes with a total population of 23,000. To address high child mortality rates, community health workers visited pregnant women in their homes to encourage them to give birth at a hospital or clinic. Now 89% of mothers are giving birth using trained midwives. Mothers with children under two years learned how to correctly manage child diarrhoea, and to reduce neo natal death, new mothers received iron/folic acid tablets within six weeks of the delivery of their child.
In the Koh Andaet community, World Vision staff provide health education on the importance of vaccinations, diarrhoea management and nutrition through outreach activity, home visits and one to one coaching and counselling to pregnant women, and mothers of children under two. Over a 12-month period, health workers checked the health status of 612 children under three in 26 villages, and 153 mother support groups were trained how to prepare nutritious meals, and regularly monitor their child’s health. Malnourished children are gaining energy and weight, and returning to full health.
If facts and figures aren’t your language, surely the smiling baby in this photograph says it all. It’s no wonder World Vision have named their gift catalogue Smiles.
The gifts in this catalogue represent the real needs of some of the communities World Vision work with, and are an exciting way to engage with World Vision over the Christmas period. The ‘Keep Mum and Bubs Healthy’ gift, for example, is just $30, and helps littlies get the best possible start in life by providing health supplements and nutrition training for the mother. It’s a great opportunity to play your part in preventing the preventable, and to support World Vision as they continue to protect mothers and newborns from deadly diseases through medical treatment, education and interventions.