October 25, 2014

How much does it cost to save a life?

$11. No, you didn’t read wrong, in fact, $11 would actually save three lives. A donation of $11 to UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) provides three emergency birthing kits to laboring mothers in need.

According to the World Health Organization, 1,000 women die every day due to preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Although confronting the issue of global maternal mortality can seem like a daunting task, there are available simple, inexpensive interventions that have the ability to save lives.

Clean delivery kits (also known as emergency birthing kits) contain several cheap and simple items, which have effectively reduced maternal and infant mortality worldwide. These kits contain, a bar of soap for cleaning the hands of the person helping to deliver the baby (hopefully a skilled birth attendant); a plastic sheet for providing a clean surface area for delivery; a piece of clean string to tie off the umbilical cord and a clean razor blade for cutting the umbilical cord; latex gloves help to reduce infections and pictorial instructions explain how to use each item in the kit. Delivery kits are particularly useful to the 57 million women worldwide who give birth at home without the assistance of a trained health worker. Research sponsored by PATH revealed that the distribution of clean delivery kits in Tanzania and Nepal resulted in a reduction of umbilical cord infections and sepsis.

Clean Delivery Kits

Reduction in maternal mortality is an important Millennium Development Goal. The death of a mother certainly affects each individual family, as mothers play an instrumental role in the physical and social health of their children. There is also a global impact. The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood reports, “Each year, an estimated U.S. $15.5 billion in potential productivity is lost when mothers and newborns die.” Children born without a mother are more likely to die at a younger age and suffer from malnutrition and stunted growth. Often, the older siblings (usually the girls) must leave school (if they are fortunate enough to attend) and take over the familial responsibilities. Mothers are an important aspect of every family, community and nation, and maternal mortality jeopardizes social and economic growth.

Clean delivery kits are just one of the many inexpensive interventions that save women’s lives.  An ABC News Initiative, Be the Change: Save a Life, recently spotlighted several low cost, innovative projects that are saving lives around the world, proving that it doesn’t cost a lot to save a life.

About Michaela Maynard

Michaela has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish language and literature from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health from the George Washington University. She resides in Rhode Island where she is employed at a local hospital as a HIV/hepatitis C Clinical Research Assistant. In 2007, Michaela traveled to Malawi, Africa as the inaugural recipient of the Americans for UNFPA Student Award. She is an advocate for the health and rights of women all over the world.

Comments

  1. Peter Austin says:

    three emergency birthing kits != three lives saved. Please correct.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michaela Maynard, AIDemocracy. AIDemocracy said: We just posted: How much does it cost to save a life? http://bit.ly/ihhD0y [...]

  2. [...] let’s put that in perspective. According to AIDemocracy, for less than $4 you can save a life in developing countries. (I’ve seen other estimates that you can save a life for as little as [...]