Global maternal health

Imagine being a mother in labour, suffering severe complications and being forced to walk miles to hospital to seek medical treatment. The idea seems absurd in the UK, but for women in developing countries it is a reality. Researchers at Birmingham are working on simple ways to save mothers' lives.

Global-maternal-healthAcross the globe, a woman dies unnecessarily every 90 seconds in childbirth, leaving more than a million children motherless each year. Birmingham's researchers know they can save lives by working with communities to develop better care plans for new mothers, covering everything from health care and food security to transport.

Professor Arri Coomarasamy and his team is fundraising for four key projects in Tanzania and Malawi:

Sepsis prevention

Sepsis is a severe widespread infection suffered by five million pregnant women worldwide each year. The infection can cause septic shock - a rapid fall in blood pressure, which can lead to multiple organ failure. If it is left untreated, sepsis can be fatal. In developing countries, a third of women who develop severe sepsis during pregnancy or childbirth will die compared to just 0.05% in the UK. Dr David Lissauer is working with local women, community leaders and healthcare professionals in Malawi and Tanzania to design a bundle of medication and testing equipment that can be used by everyone to identify sepsis in its early stages.

Emergency transport

The AM-TRAN project will help to prevent mothers from dying unnecessarily due to a lack of available and affordable transport. Reducing travel time via a community transport service can make the difference between life and death. The project addresses a need that has been identified through our ongoing work with Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. It will work closely with the village to identify and prioritise a suitable vehicle and committee to run this service. The local community will be encouraged to take ownership of the project to ensure its sustainability.

Food security

The team is conducting a data project, 'Do women eat last?' assessing food security and nutrition. Ensuring mothers are eating healthy food is key to saving lives.

Community groups

Setting up women's groups in Tanzania to help mothers share experiences and inspire communit action. The project will explore the effects of women coming together to work out solutions for themselves.

How you can help

All these projects will empower women, enable life-saving transport, and equip clinicians with tools to battle sepsis, but your help is needed to make them a reality. A £50 donation will fund a day's sepsis prevention training for a healthcare professional. Email giving@contacts.bham.ac.uk, or make a donation today at www.bhamalumni.org/givenow.