Supporting safer motherhood and preparing for disasters

Guinea was already a poor country with a strained health system when the Ebola epidemic hit.

The British Red Cross works with the Guinea Red Cross to help mothers and babies to stay healthy help people cope better with disasters. Both are essential in helping the country get back on its feet after Ebola and being ready in case of another emergency.

Healthy mothers and healthy babies

What’s wrong?

Guinea is one of the most difficult places to become a mum. For every 100,000 births, 650 mothers die during childbirth. This compares to just eight in the UK.

Sadly, many babies also die at birth. For instance, while there are 65 infant deaths for every 1,000 babies born in Guinea, in the UK there are only four.

Teenage pregnancy is common and, unfortunately, more people are becoming infected with HIV.

A staggering 90 per cent of women reported that they had faced violence, and half of these cases relate to sexual violence.

Even before the Ebola outbreak, Guinea’s had a weak health service, particularly in the countryside. The strain of Ebola strained resources even further.

Sadly, some women don’t use the existing health services because they don’t understand the need for medical care, or the kind of help they will get.

To avoid another epidemic in the country, the health system also needs to keep track of infectious disease and take action quickly when it strikes.

Trained health workers make a difference

The British Red Cross works with the Guinean Red Cross to expand a successful project that supports safe motherhood and sexual and reproductive health and rights. We now work in areas that have particularly high rates of maternal and child death.

The project trains 87 health workers to provide better care for their patients, young and old. Other group of 92 health workers have learned how to help people understand why they should use health services in pregnancy and birth. They also visit people’s homes and run training sessions to teach people about their right to health care.

Six teams of ten volunteers each have joined the health workers in learning to identify and prepare for epidemics

Safe delivery’: an innovative app supports healthy motherhood

Health workers also use an innovative ‘Safe delivery’ app developed by the Maternity Foundation. It helps train medical staff in how to deliver babies safely including medical advice for any issues that come up before, during and after a birth.

In addition, the app is a helpful guide for parents and anyone interested in getting a better understanding of pregnancy, birth and care after the delivery.. Awareness sessions run with the community help people talk about sexual and reproductive health rights.

We’re also training 60 community leaders in understanding and mitigating the risks linked to sexual health and gender-based violence so they can share this knowledge with their communities. Meetings between 2,000 young people and their parents cover topics such as contraception, child marriage and people’s rights.

Better support for communities during disasters

The Guinea Red Cross reached an incredible two million people during the Ebola epidemic.

Two thousand volunteers worked in communities, disinfecting homes, teaching people how to protect themselves from infection, and conducting safe and dignified burials.

On top of these, they have dealt with many other emergencies, from flooding to cholera epidemics, and from landslides to conflict.

The British Red Cross works with the Guinea Red Cross to provide even better support to communities affected by disasters. By training disaster response teams and giving them the right equipment, we help them get ready to take action at the first stages of an emergency.

We also help them create disaster plans in advance and make sure that trained volunteers get to communities as soon as possible. All of this will mean that the disasters will do less damage to people and communities.