Keeping mothers and babies alive in Kenya and India

Maryanne Crockett and Lisa Avery of the U of M’s Centre for Global Public Health are making a difference for families on the other side of the world. Much of their work focuses on saving the lives of women and infants in rural regions of Kenya and India where barriers to accessing care are significant and the quality of care, variable.

In Kenya, 480 women die for every 100,000 births (compared to eight women in Canada). In rural areas, that number can more than double. Crockett (an associate professor in the departments of pediatrics and child health, and medical microbiology) and Avery (assistant professor in the departments of community health sciences; obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences; and medical microbiology) aim to improve post-partum care in places where women and babies are dying from conditions that are well-known, easily treatable and preventable.

With on-site teams, these doctors want to solve problems on two levels—in facilities (hospitals, clinics and pharmacies) and in the community. In India, this has included identifying gaps in care and offering life-saving solutions for hospital staff to employ (for example, cleaning and drying an unresponsive newborn to stimulate breathing). Avery and Crockett outline can’t-be-missed services that need to be offered to women and children and detail at what stage to do so. In Kenya, their work includes partnering with the government to train community health workers who travel by bike around remote areas and educate women about health issues—like the danger signs to watch for during pregnancy.

Read more in the Winter 2014 issue of ResearchLIFE magazine.