Reducing Maternal and Neonatal Mortality in South Sudan through Community-Based Health Training of Church "Safe Birth Committees" Combined with Building the Capacity of Traditional Birth Attendants and of Existing Health Facilities
This project will address the problem of high maternal and neonatal deaths in rural South Sudan as a result of multiple barriers left after years of civil war: traditional birth attendants (TBAs) and staff of rural government health clinics have inadequate training and resources to assess and manage pregnant women appropriately; there is lack of trust in and familiarity with these persons by pregnant women; and most homes are at remote distances from health clinics over undeveloped roads. The project will increase the quality of service delivery by TBAs and clinic staff by providing consistent, evidence-based education on antenatal care and medical equipment innovatively adapted for use by illiterate TBAs and poorly trained health care staff, including the Hesperian Safe Pregnancy and Birth Application for iPods/iPhones. Demand for this service will be created in an innovative way by using the strong social network of "Safe Birth Committees" in local churches to provide ongoing education for marginalized women and families and to facilitate the development of effective relationships between them, TBAs and health facility staff. Demand will be further strengthened by collaboration with ACROSS (a local NGO) to provide safe birth education on local radio and on digital players which is coordinated with the same information being presented by the Safe Birth Committees. The objective of the project is to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality by at least 30%. The project's results will be sustained with help from the Sudan United Methodist Health Board in seeking donor funds.