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Marceline Auma smiles as she holds her newborn baby during a postnatal visit at the Lwala Community Hospital. After her one previous pregnancy, her child succumbed to common childhood diseases and infections soon after birth. But this 23-year-old mother is not worried about the survival of the latest addition to her family because, for the first time, she delivered at a health facility with the help of skilled birth attendants who gave both mother and son full treatment and information to promote health.

Like many mothers in Nyanza, Marceline chose to give birth at the hospital after community health workers visited and educated her on the benefits of skilled delivery. According to Sheila Odongo, a community health worker, the high cost of maternity services and traditional beliefs on childbirth have for a long time limited the number of rural women who deliver at health centers. “Most of them give birth at home with the help of traditional birth attendants who are not equipped to deal with birth complications or provide babies with much needed vaccinations,” Sheila added. This has led to a higher incidence of child and maternal mortality especially in this region.

This is quickly changing, however, through the informative campaigns conducted by Lwala Community Hospital. The Lwala Community Hospital ensures that children are delivered in sterile conditions, are immunized, and are protected from delivery-related infections. The hospital has also built a placenta pit to ensure proper disposal of the placenta. This move has encouraged more women to come to hospitals because it respects the culturally held beliefs of the community regarding placenta disposal. In addition, mothers get information on health care for herself and her children to reduce both maternal and child mortality rates.

This is just a one of the stories we have helped co-create; lived by the newly empowered people we have been able to help. Make a donation and pledge to share our vision. Happy holidays!

excerpt from a report by Katherine Falk and Jonathan White

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