Project HOPE: Tens of thousands of women and children benefit from Saving Lives at Birth Program to reduce maternal and neonatal deaths in Indonesia

Milwood, Virginia, UNITED STATES

MILLWOOD, Va., July 28, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Project HOPE, the health education and humanitarian assistance organization, said tens of thousands of women, newborns and children under five have benefitted from the Saving Lives at Birth project aimed at reducing maternal and neonatal deaths in Indonesia.

Indonesia's rate of maternal and newborn deaths are among the highest in Asia with over 17,000 maternal deaths from pregnancy-related causes and there are over 90,000 neonatal deaths each year. To address this problem, Project HOPE implemented the Saving Lives at Birth project in four sub-districts in Serang in Banten Province, Java.

The program, funded by Johnson & Johnson reached 41,493 direct beneficiaries from 2012- 2015, including pregnant women, infants, children under-five years old and their mothers.

"Due to cultural and cost reasons in these sub-districts, prior to the start of this program about 40 percent of women preferred to give birth at home with traditional birth attendants who lack the skills to safely handle deliveries alone. If an emergency occurs, delays in seeking and reaching appropriate care can result in needless maternal and neonatal deaths. The program worked with the government's Community Health Centers that provide free maternal and child health services to upgrade them to accredited facilities that can handle basic emergency obstetric and neonatal complications. These government services were not previously available in the communities, and now there is demand for them. In 2015 alone, over 1,000 pregnant women gave birth in the four accredited health centers" said Kristina Gryboski, Ph.D., Senior Program Officer for Women's and Children's Health.

The program is overseen by Project HOPE's Country Director, Dr. Nasaruddin Sheldon, MD, who closely partners with the District Health Office to ensure the improvements in skills, supplies, and equipment will be sustained by the government's health system after the program ends.

The program strengthened the government's health system at the facility and community levels, training 57 health facility care providers, 42 village midwives, 1,075 government Community Health Workers, and 84 government community development workers.

The program measured the following improvements compared to before the program began:

• 21 percent increase in deliveries with a skilled birth attendant and 32 percent increase in use of skilled postnatal care
• 30 percent increase in children 0-6 months who are exclusively breastfeed
• 45 percent increase in children 12-33 months who had complete immunization
• 45 percent increase in mothers participating in community-based maternal and child health education and services

"The community health volunteer came to my house and convinced me to come to the health center for childbirth. When my baby was born, she wasn't breathing and the midwife resuscitated her to save her life. I am grateful that my midwife was trained by Project HOPE so my baby was safely delivered at the health center," said a mother who benefitted from the program.

With a new $563,500 grant from Johnson and Johnson, Project HOPE is covering five additional sub-districts in Serang in partnership with the District Health Office until 2019 to reach more than 100,000 infants, children and women until 2019.


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