Applaud Free Healthcare for Impoverished Mothers


Target: Ben Bellows, Project Manager, Safe Mother Program

Goal: Applaud efforts to ensure accessible maternal care internationally

Women in developing countries are being given reproductive health vouchers that can be exchanged for medical care before, during, or after childbirth. The aim of the voucher program, called Safe Mother, is to reduce the death rate of mothers and babies due to pregnancy and birth-related complications.

Each year, an estimated 2.8 million babies are stillborn, while over 250,000 mothers die during pregnancy or delivery. The majority of these deaths occur in developing countries, where medical care can be less advanced and more difficult to access.

The vouchers are free in some countries, while in others women are asked to pay a small fee- pennies on the dollar to the voucher’s redeemable value. The Safe Mother program targets those in poor or rural areas that may not otherwise be able to access medical care during their pregnancies.

The vouchers were responsible for 350,000 safe births in a 3 year period in Bangladesh alone, as well as many more in countries such as Uganda, Cambodia, and Kenya. Childbirth in a medical facility has increased by 13% in Kenya over one year. In the same year, long term family planning rose by 50% in voucher sites, while postnatal care rose by 30%.

Many of the three million pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths each year can be avoided with accessible medical care. Commend the Population Council for their work to improve reproductive health care internationally, thereby improving the lives of families worldwide.


Dear Ben Bellows, Project Manager, Safe Mother Program,

Women in developing countries are receiving vouchers redeemable for medical care during pregnancy and childbirth. The Safe Mother program ensures free or low-cost reproductive care for women who may not otherwise be able to access it, reducing the risk of health complications or death.

The program was responsible for nearly 350,000 safe births in Bangladesh over a three year period. Kenya’s rate of family planning in voucher areas rose by 50% in a year, while 13% more births occurred in a medical facility. Postnatal care in Kenya rose by 30% that year.

With the risk of death during childbirth the highest in some developing countries, the Safe Mother program is making meaningful progress in reducing the amount of stillborn babies and pregnancy-related deaths. I commend the Safe Mother program and encourage new partnerships in other areas in need.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: drwhimsy via Flickr Creative Commons

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