In Malawi, the maternal mortality rate remains one of the highest in the world, but this figure is eclipsed by number of women experiencing severe maternal morbidities (SMMs). The number of women who continue to suffer weeks, months, or even years after a difficult delivery is not captured in any official statistic and they receive no additional support.
Though we celebrate their survival and their return home from hospital, severe maternal morbidities have significant long-lasting consequences on the lives of women and their children. Women experiencing SMMs are more likely than others to experience difficulty completing activities of daily living, they often suffer financial repercussions, depression, their young children experience an increased risk of mortality, and the women themselves face an increased risk of mortality which extends up to one year following the delivery. By supporting women experiencing SMMs in their homes and communities, we hasten their return to health and mitigate the impact of their morbidity.
We enroll women in Mother Care Programme who have experienced:
These women are paired with a Joyful Motherhood nurse who visits them in their home and provides support, discharging them from the programme only once they have regained their health and their situation has stabilized.
Each visit by a Joyful Motherhood nurse involves a physical assessment of the convalescing woman, a depression screening, an assessment of the home environment, delivery of nutrition supplements, assessment of her ability to care for herself and children, and often health education and/or counseling for the woman and family. As needed nurses also work to mobilize community members to support her.
For all enrolled women recovering from SMMs, we provide a small investment—approximately $10—for income generation. Women have used this money to start small groceries, create businesses making and selling local donuts, charcoal, etc. This additional income helps them meet the basic needs of their homes and mitigates the impact of poverty, which adversely affects their ability to lead healthy lives, ultimately resulting in increased chances of mortality for themselves and their children.