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Mother and child health: the "A call for Life" project nominated for an International Convergences Award

September 08th, 2014

The Convergences Awards reward each year a number of NGO-corporate/ institutional partnerships that help build a more equitable and sustainable world*. The "A Call for Life" project carried out in Benin by CARE and the Sanofi Espoir Foundation is one of the six nominees. The winner will be announced and receive their award on September 10, 2014 at the Convergences World Forum.

The Sanofi Espoir Foundation wins the Grand Oscar in Corporate Philanthropy in 2014

Fighting against maternal and neonatal mortality in Benin

In Benin, 1,500 women die each year from complications related to pregnancy, childbirth or the puerperium – a total of 125 women each month. Coverage rates of maternal and child needs in 28 villages that can be flooded and isolated in the municipality of Ouinhi where the project is ongoing are among the lowest in the country.

Since October 2011, the CARE project and the Sanofi Espoir Foundation have helped improve the health of mothers and children in the town of Ouinhi through a participatory approach including the following:

  • training 35 community volunteers
  • creating a network of health actors
  • capacity building among the health personnel,
  • the development of phone applications
  • and the purchase of vehicles for medical transport.

"A Call for Life" meets the main criteria for a Convergences award

Quality/Impact

Before the project was introduced, most maternal deaths were related either to lack of knowledge of signs of complications during pregnancy or to delays in seeking obstetric care due to the remoteness of the town of Ouinhi.

Three years after the start of the project:

  • 6,300 women have been cared for by volunteers and trained health workers.
  • More than 25,000 women and girls have learned about best practices and danger signs.
  • 99% of births are now supervised by health workers.
  • Knowledge of three danger signs during pregnancy, among women who have just given birth and new-born infants has increased by an average of 35%.

Innovation

To reduce the number of maternal and infant deaths, volunteers and health workers use mobile phones. A first in Benin.

The CARE teams have overseen the development of these applications that now make it possible to:

  • Understand better and identify signs of obstetric and neonatal hazards by using audio messages in local language
  • Comply with standards of care,
  • increase prenatal and assisted deliveries,
  • monitor health data in real-time by health professionals.

By using phones, volunteers can act as intermediaries between health centers far from towns and future or young mothers. This boosts networking among different players in order to provide better healthcare for neonatal obstetric emergencies.

Project sustainability

The sustainability of the project can guaranteed through its ownership by communities and local and national authorities. The project is managed locally through village health committees and volunteer groups created at the beginning of the project to run and maintain motorcycles and boat ambulances.

boat ambulances

The town hall manages the community volunteers and telephones. Officials in the health zone supervise the activities of health workers and maintain telephones, medical-technical materials and other means of transport.

Possibility of scaling up current achievements

The ease of use of the applications that have been developed and their approval by the Benin Ministry of Health makes it possible to think about either replicating this system in other areas or in adapting it to other uses.