Over 100,000 clean birthing kits packed for mothers around the world

Clean birthing kits a catalyst for better health outcomes

It is humbling to consider that for the price of a cup of coffee, a clean birthing kit can help protect mothers and newborns from life-threatening infections. Each kit contains six essential items: gloves, gauze, string, a plastic sheet, soap and a sterile blade. All neatly packaged and small enough to fit into the palm of your hand.

Over the past two years, over 100,000 kits have been delivered or prepared for delivery through our partnership with the Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia). These kits have gone to women in vulnerable communities and fragile settings in countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Somalia and Tanzania.

In 2016, our partnership saw 25,200 kits sent to Uganda. Many of the communities who received the kits lack access to the most basic health resources due to poverty and sometimes conflict. It is in these settings where resources like clean birthing kits can have the biggest impact. This significant achievement was also made possible through “Vision Sisters”, a community of passionate women gathering in churches, homes and halls around Australia to pack clean birthing kits and raise funds for their sisters in need.

Become a Vision Sister - help pack and send clean birthing kits to World Vision's projects around the world. Find out more

Birthing kits packed by Australians are helping to support World Vision's maternal and child health programming in countries like Uganda and Afghanistan.

From Australian hands to health services in Uganda

In Uganda, World Vision Australia, in partnership with the Birthing Kit Foundation (Australia), have been integrating clean birthing kits into health programming for the past two years. This partnership began as a result of our shared passion to tackle the overwhelming rates of maternal and infant deaths. Globally, some 303,000 women die in childbirth every year, many from easily preventable causes. On average, 6,000 of these deaths occur in Uganda.

A portion of the clean birthing kits sent to Uganda in 2016 have been integrated into the Australian Government-funded East Africa Maternal, Newborn and Child Health project in Kitgum District. The goal of the project was to improve maternal, newborn and child survival through strengthening the local health system, by improving access to quality services, including health, hygiene and nutrition.

Kits integrated into the project are serving as an incentive for mothers to attend their nearest health clinic for antenatal check-ups, which are essential for monitoring maternal and child health.

The project provides women with a kit at their fourth antenatal check-up. This planned distribution has contributed to an increase in pregnant women in Kitgum seeking antenatal care. This means community health workers can reach them with vital information to improve the health of mother and baby during pregnancy.

The health information provided during antenatal care appointments has also encouraged an increase in the number seeking postnatal care. Postnatal care is critical for ensuring the health and survival of both mother and newborn. Over the three years of the project there has been a 16 percent increase in the number of women attending postnatal care appointments. Clean birthing kits have played a role in this hugely significant achievement.

The project also saw a progressively greater involvement of men, with one local health worker saying, “There is change… men are motivated to move with their women to the antenatal care clinics.” This achievement is important as it encourages men to share the childcare duties, challenging what it has traditionally meant to be a father. Traditionally in sub-Saharan Africa men are in control of financial decision making for birth such as purchasing items for a clean and safe birth, paying for transportation to the health centre and paying for care in health facilities. The increase of men attending antenatal and postnatal care appointments has been shown to increase men’s positive involvement in these decision making processes. When men attend these appointments they become empowered to see the value in investing in a clean and safe birth.

Together with the Australian Government and health service providers in Uganda, you've helped thousands of families provide a healthier, safer start to life for their children. 

Written by Lauren Amadei, World Vision Australia