“If you want to lift up humanity, empower women. It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high–leverage investment you can make in human beings,”1 says Melinda Gates, mother of three and cochair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We agree. Mothers are the lifeblood—literally—of children and communities around the world. Women and mothers today face great challenges, but when we support them in their efforts to do good, the impact we have together is immeasurable.
Meet Dr. Mariana Pirvan from Mioveni, Romania. As a mother and a doctor, she wanted to do more to improve the lives of the babies in her community. By attending lifesaving neonatal classes in Targu Mures sponsored by Latter-day Saint Charities, she was able to set up a training station in her maternity hospital. Currently, the most common factor in maternal and infant death is a lack of skilled providers.2 With her new materials and equipment, Dr. Mariana is helping mothers and children in her community improve their chances of survival.
In 2019, Latter-day Saint Charities’ Maternal and Newborn Care initiative helped over 80,000 children and mothers like Mariana in 27 countries and territories.3 However, there is still more we can do. More than 800 mothers die every day from pregnancy or childbirth complications, most of which are preventable.4
“With the right training and practice for medical providers, these mothers should not be dying,” says Matt Gardner, Latter-day Saint Charities Maternal and Newborn Care manager. Through combined efforts with Jhpiego’s Helping Mothers Survive program, Latter-day Saint Charities is supporting midwives and nurses around the globe, in countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Rwanda, providing the best possible care to women and newborns at birth. By partnering with mothers and doctors like Dr. Mariana, initiatives like these are successfully decreasing maternal deaths worldwide.5
Meet Catherine Tamaltan from Chad, who is helping her community and her future family. After community educators explained to her the importance of completing all three doses of the lifesaving tetanus vaccine, Catherine decided to receive the third dose. “I was delaying a bit to take it [the tetanus vaccine] for the third time,” she says. “I thought that two doses of vaccine were sufficient to protect me and my future children from this terrible disease. Today I ask all women and girls of childbearing age to not believe in rumors about the vaccine.”6
In countries like Chad, misinformation around tetanus vaccines is common and prevents women from getting the needed protection. Tetanus is preventable with the proper vaccinations. A mother with this vaccination will retain immunity throughout her childbearing years and will protect her children from this “excruciating disease that killed approximately 30,848 infants in 2017.”7
In 2019, thanks to brave women like Catherine and generous donors, Latter-day Saint Charities has been a part of the maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) elimination movement led by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. To date, 47 countries, including Chad, have completely eliminated MNT, and only 12 countries remain at risk.8
Latter-day Saint Charities invests in mothers because mothers are important. “Women are not only the bedrock of families, but of their communities. When we help women and mothers, we are helping to ensure a brighter future for communities everywhere,”9 says Dr. Cherrie Evans, director of Jhpiego’s Helping Mothers Survive.
We commend mothers, and we honor the role they play in creating and protecting families and populations. To mothers everywhere, we say thank you.