SRH and Safe Motherhood

What have we learned from the research of the Impact Centre Erasmus (ICE) on interventions in the area of SRH and Safe Motherhood?

Safe motherhood: To improve positive outcomes of perinatal and maternal care, ideally more births are accompanied by trained midwives (Skilled Birth Attendants, or SBA’s). However, we must acknowledge that especially in rural areas there is a consistent shortage of SBA’s. It is therefore not a realistic goal.  Evidence does suggest that in areas known for high mortality and weak health systems, traditional midwives (Traditional Birth Attendants, TBA’s) are contributing to a reduction of mortality rates of children under 14. 

Menstrual hygiene management: So far, studies have not been able to show a correlation between Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) interventions and reproductive health problems, such as infections of the reproductive tract. However, this does not mean MHM is not effective at all. It can have a positive impact on Sexual Reproductive Health. There is for example a strong correlation between poor menstrual hygiene management, gender equality and the rate of girls dropping out of school.

What does this mean for Max Foundation?
Max Foundation promotes better choices for Safe Motherhood, based on pre- and postnatal care, through education and information sharing within communities. Max Foundation has observed concerns about the competency of TBA’s and there seems to be a transition towards advising only SBAs. To improve positive outcomes of perinatal and maternal care, ideally SBA’s accompany more births. However, this is not a realistic goal, because of a lack of SBA’s. Therefore, we promote using trained TBA’s, because they also contribute to a reduction of mortality rates of children under 14.

Furthermore, we have also incorporated components addressing gender equality and menstrual hygiene management in our programmes. Of all interventions implemented by Max Foundation, we are currently concentrating on improving water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. For example, toilets with lockable doors have shown to help women and girls’ safety and privacy. Providing better disposal facilities for sanitary pads also decreases shame and embarrassment for them.