05:49am Sunday 31 May 2020

Lifesaving kit cost less than a coffee

Giving birth in a safe and clean environment is something that we take for granted in Australia, says Professor Jill White, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sydney. But it is a very different picture in other parts of the world.

A birthing kit costing less than a cappuccino could save the lives of thousands of mothers and babies in Africa. The $3 kit include a single bed-sized plastic sheet for the mothers, gloves for the midwives, soap, string for tying the umbilical cord, and scalpels.

Volunteers have united at University of Sydney’s Great Hall for the annual Birthing Kit Assembly Day event, which is now one of the largest of its kind in Australia.

Organisers of the packing session said they were aiming to pack as many as 5000 kits, which will be sent to help pregnant women in central Africa deliver their babies in safe and clean environments.

An estimated 500,000 new mothers die each year in developing countries due to infection as a result of childbirth. In Africa, a staggering one in 22 women die in pregnancy or childbirth.

Some of the mothers-to-be living in the coffee-producing regions of Africa will ultimately benefit from this initiative says Dr Luc Mulimbalimba Masururu, medical director, Mission in Health Care and Development, who will coordinate the distribution of the packed kits in Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Kenya as many as 70 percent of women deliver at home, and traditional birth attendants have no access to materials, hence the importance of a clean birth kit.

Professor White said every minute a woman dies from complications related to childbirth and 99 percent of these deaths occur in resource-poor countries. With a birthing kit there is something very simple we can do to help.

The University of Sydney’s Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence, said the University was delighted to be part of this fundamental global health initiative.

Components for the kits have been purchased from Birthing Kit Australia using funds raised by Sydney Nursing School students and alumni of the University.

Media enquiries: Victoria Hollick, 9351 2579, 0401 711 361

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