THOR was formed in response to the findings from a 2010 verbal autopsy study into 31 Maternal Deaths in Milne Bay conducted by Dr. Barry Kirby.
Most women die in child birth from blood loss associated with delivering in a remote village. Some women made it to a health centre after they delivered but they still died. Clearly there was time to intervene in a majority of cases but mothers (and husbands) generally didn’t realize they had a problem until it was too late. Men don’t know anything about the danger signs around pregnancy or realise the importance of having a supervised delivery or FP. We clearly had problems delivering in the village but also delivering in a health centre. This research is ongoing.
We asked women everywhere why they did not attend their health centre for a delivery and what were the problems. Women were generally unhappy with health centres and staff were sometimes unfriendly. There were no waiting houses and distance to travel was too far at time of delivery. Having enough food during confinement was a concern. They also felt self-conscious about their extreme poverty and lack of ability to provide new clothes for their baby and themselves.
Mother and Baby Gifts. Providing mothers with a generous gift if they had a supervised delivery was our way of saying “we want you to come down and deliver safely” They include clothing for mother and baby with other items that they would never be able to afford or even procure in remote trade stores. We made them up ourselves and delivered them out to the health centres. The Mother and Baby gifts were so welcomed by mothers they had immediate impact with increased supervised deliveries at all centres.
Providing a waiting house for women from distant villages to stay in so they can come in early enough to be safe is essential. We have them constructed of bush material by locals for K1400 each. They are cool, comfortable and ‘just like home’ and last 7 years and easy to replace.
Providing market money for women whose home village is too remote to bring enough food is also essential. We give between K250 and K75 kina in 20 toea pieces to each health centre depending on number of deliveries and number of distant villages in their catchment area.
INCREASED SUPERVISED DELIVERIES AT ALL 15 HEALTH CENTERS
REDUCTION IN MATERNAL DEATHS BY NEARLY 80%
The staff at centres we support perform better than the rest.
Our intervention is having a dramatic effect in reducing maternal deaths and increasing supervised deliveries while other centres remain the same.
We have now introduced our programmes into 19 health Centres in Milne Bay Province.