Health of mothers and children

Image: IFRC
Health of mothers and children & Our work throughout the world
Vaccination campaigns
  • Vaccination is often the most effective and safest means of protection against disease, such as measles and polio. The more people are protected by vaccination, the more likely it is that the community – village, school, family – becomes free from infection.
  • In order to guarantee a better vaccination coverage, Red Cross volunteers check during home visits that the children have been vaccinated. They also advise guardians on vaccinations if necessary. Information campaigns encouraging parents to inoculate their children are organised on a regular basis.

For the past 20 years, the Red Cross has been actively working, planning, initiating and implementing development cooperation programmes and introducing programme initiatives in order to improve the health of mothers and children.

Every year

  • 60 million women give birth at home without professional help or access to medical care
  • 500,000 women die in childbirth or from complications following it
  • four million newborns die by the age of one month
  • three million children are stillborn.

Improving the well-being of pregnant women and radically reducing child mortality are recorded in the UN millennium goals. The Red Cross works in cooperation with WHO, Unicef and UNFPA to attain these goals by 2015. Preserving the health of mothers and children is also of primary importance in the fight against poverty.

Through experience, the Red Cross has found the method of operation that creates the best results: surveying and observing the needs of the community is the best way to build programmes improving the health of mothers and children. It is the most efficient way that ensures lasting results.

Healthcare professionals are the key to curing disease. The Red Cross can, however, substantially support households and communities through its programmes.

Community-based mother and child health programmes:

  • encourage pregnant women to utilise prenatal services
  • support safe childbirth
  • support healthy ways of living
  • talk about the importance of breast-feeding
  • increase the number of vaccinated children
  • monitor the growth and development of children
  • carry out preventive education, guidance and advice initiative to combat malnutrition, diarrhoea and infectious disease.
  • Cooperation between parents, communities and healthcare professionals is vital for improving the well-being of mothers and children.

Maternity programmes support the creation of a bond between the healthcare system, the village community and the home from the time the child is born. Volunteers play an important role in strengthening the bond between healthcare services and communities.

The Red Cross works in close cooperation with, amongst others, national ministries of health, Unicef, the World Health Organisation, Rotaries, Roll Back Malaria and Measles Initiative in order to guarantee a healthy life for mothers and their children.

Mothers’ Club

In Mothers' Clubs, women work together to improve the quality of their lives. They also offer a positive and encouraging example for their communities.

Mothers’ Clubs have two goals:

  • to improve the health of communities by educating women
  • to improve the socioeconomic situation of women.

The clubs provide important information concerning health and well-being on HIV/AIDS, nutrition and other issues central to the health of women. After women have participated in the Mothers’ Club training, they volunteer to pass on the skills they have acquired in their communities.

Village councils select the women to participate in the training from amongst themselves. One Mothers’ Club has 30–50 members.