Jill W. Sheffield, Family Care International Ms. Sheffield is the Founder and President of Family Care International (FCI). FCI's mission is to improve women's sexual and reproductive health and rights in developing countries, with a special emphasis on making pregnancy and childbirth safer. Ms. Sheffield is an educator whose experience in the design and implementation of health and education projects in developing countries spans more than three decades. At FCI, she played a central role in negotiations at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, and was closely involved in planning NGO activities during the Hague Forum and the UN General Assembly Special Session for ICPD + 5, in 1999. Prior to founding FCI, she served as an Executive Officer for the International Program of Carnegie Corporation of New York. Ms. Sheffield has served on a number of Boards, including those of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Population Communication International. In 2003 she received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Columbia University Teachers College.
A recent opinion piece in The Guardian questions the contributions that girls and young women can make to economies when they delay childbirth. The author fails to understand the complexity of the "Girl Effect."
The latest numbers show the United States is becoming more, not less, dangerous for women who give birth here. Why is the maternal mortality rate increasing and what can we do about it? Women Deliver aims to find an answer.
Women in Afghanistan who decide to become mothers are the invisible victims of war. The maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan is the worst in the world, tied with Sierra Leone,but stories about health conditions there fail to mention this.
Women Deliver marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of the global Safe Motherhood Initiative. Its research led to impressive gains in many places, but there is still much more to be done to reduce maternal and newborn deaths.
I just returned from Malaysia, where I attended the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FIGO) triennial congress. I traveled with some of my colleagues from Family Care International (FCI) to present results from the final evaluation of FCI's Skilled Care Initiative, a three-country project to increase the proportion of women who deliver with a "skilled attendant" - a trained and properly supported health care provider - in rural Africa. I'll be writing more about this initiative in my next posting.
In Kuala Lumpur, thousands of obstetricians and gynecologists gathered to share data from new studies, learn about new surgical techniques, and vote on their leadership. Among so many dedicated doctors who have made a lifelong commitment to promoting the latest and greatest in women's health, one could be lulled into thinking that women's health must be in good shape.
Sadly, over the past 20 years, maternal mortality rates have barely budged in much of the world. In some African countries, as many as one in 10 women will die of a pregnancy-related cause. Nicholas Kristoff's twocolumns in the New York Times (published in September) about the death of Prudence Lemokouno described the factors that contribute to maternal mortality. Ms. Lemokouno had a pregnancy complication which could have easily been dealt with had she received prompt obstetrical care, and when she and her family sought care, they encountered a range of barriers - financial, geographic, and cultural - that resulted in unacceptable delays, poor service, and ultimately, her death.
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