This article is reproduced with permission from The Kavli Trust, which provided major support for HDI’s work in Niger to protect women’s lives and dignity from 2009–2021. Photos © Health and Development International
Health & Development International Norway (HDI Norway) receives renewed support from The Kavli Trust (Kavlifondet) to prevent maternal mortality in Niger.
The Kavli Trust has for many years been supporting HDIs work to reduce maternal mortality and obstetric fistula at birth in Niger.
Now a new grant will make further development and strengthened evaluation possible in two of these projects.
Prevent obstetric fistula
The one project prevents obstetric fistula in an area 120 square miles larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined in the United States of America. Over 300.000 people live there, and obstetric fistula was previously a big problem.
Read more about the project here: The Country Doctor
Because of the project, obstetric fistula is now gone from these areas. In addition, birth-related maternal mortality has been reduced by 80%, to a level seen in countries with much stronger economies.
– With this new support from The Kavli Trust, we will test a new approach in this project, says Dr. Anders Seim, founder and executive director of HDI.
Bleeding the most common cause of death
The other project The Kavli Trust will support is the nationwide “Initiative to prevent women from bleeding to death when they give birth” in communities and health facilities.
The Kavli Trust’s support will contribute in two ways to reach the goal of halving bleeding-deaths at childbirth. Bleeding is usually the most common reason women die giving birth.
– With funding from the Kavli Trust we will be able to buy several hundred thousand tablets of an effective and inexpensive medication, ulcer medication which has the beneficial side-effect that it causes the uterus to contract, says Anders Seim.
44 cents save lives
Two tablets cost a total of about $0.44 US Dollars, and these should be given to the woman immediately when the baby is out. This reduces the occurrence of excessive bleeding by over 70% according to scientific studies.
– This simple treatment saves lives and prevents severe anemia among those who survive, as Dr. Seim points out is well documented in the medical literature.
Blood-loss anemia can have serious consequences, such as months of inability to work and large financial losses.
Kavli Trust support is making it possible to re-stock the supply so it does not become empty while one works to get World Bank to take over procurement of this life-saving medication.
Supervision and guidance
Kavli Trust funds will also be used to continue the system of supportive supervision in clinics and hospitals across Niger. Kavli Trust has supported such supervision since 2017.
– We saw then that supportive supervisory visits are enormously important if one is to succeed with this work. We have assumed that to be the case, but we had no funds for such supervision until Kavli Trust stepped up. My colleagues in Niger and I are tremendously relieved that we can continue supportive supervision all over where women give birth this year too, says Anders Seim.
– Provisional numbers indicate that even economic benefits for the population can be considerable, about twelve times the cost of the initiative.
Considerable increase in survival
The Kavli Trust has supported HDIs community-based work to prevent obstetric fistula and maternal mortality, preventing deaths from especially blocked childbirth since 2010.
– Obstructed labour was reportedly that which took most lives of women giving birth in this part of Niger before the project started in 2008, according to Anders Seim.
For ten years obstructed labour has been gone from project areas; obstetric fistula has been gone for nine years, and survival giving birth has increased markedly.
With the new Kavli Trust grant, HDI will explore how these results can be sustained.
How to sustain the results
– Today, knowledge about the main principles for easily preventing maternal mortality at birth is widespread in all of the villages in the project areas, says Dr. Seim.
Using The Kavli Trust’s grant for the next two years, HDI will explore how all these good results can be sustained.
– It will be two suspenseful years. We are very appreciative of The Kavli Trust’s help with this work which means so much for so many, says Anders Seim in conclusion.