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September 20, 2016

Indonesia’s rates of maternal and newborn deaths are alarmingly high - among the highest in Asia. More than 17,000 women die every year due to pregnancy-related causes, and there are more than 90,000 deaths of newborns in Indonesia. Project HOPE has been implementing the Saving Lives at Birth project in Serang, a part of Banten Province, Indonesia, since 2012 with excellent results. For example, exclusive breastfeeding from 0-6 months among mothers in this province increased from 28 percent to 58 percent since the start of the project. Due to this success and other successes, Saving Lives at Birth has been renewed for three more years and is expanding to reach more women and children in need. Here is just one example of how this program is saving so many lives.

A community health volunteer in Indonesia helps women and babies.

My name is Maemunah, and I’m a Community Health Volunteer (kader) in Tanara. I’m 30 years old and I’m six months pregnant with my third child. I’ve been a kader for seven years, and I really enjoy it. Even though there are often challenges, I am able to overcome them.

One example is a woman in my village, Mrs. Sarti, who never had prenatal care. When I heard she’d never had care, I went to visit her to remind her she could easily get a free prenatal check up with a midwife at the monthly village health post. But as hard as I tried to convince her, she refused. So I told the midwife about her and we went to her house so the midwife could examine her. The next month she didn’t come to the health post again, and she wasn’t home when the midwife and I tried to find her. I just hoped she was getting checkups from someone.

On April 3, 2015, Mrs. Sarti’s husband came running to my house, saying that his wife had been in labor for a long time and was in trouble, so I immediately went with him to his house. They had called the traditional birth attendant (TBA) who was there but didn’t know how to help with the prolonged labor. I told Mrs. Sarti I’d take her to the health center where they could help her, but she was afraid of what would happen there, and she refused. I then explained to her husband that I would personally be responsible if anything bad happened at the health center, and he finally agreed to take his wife there.

The midwife was ready for us when we arrived because I had called her ahead of time, and she immediately handled the delivery. Mrs. Sarti thanked us and says she now understands that the health center is the safest place to have a baby.

I’m grateful to Project HOPE for teaching me about the danger signs during pregnancy and delivery so I can help women seek help from the health center quickly.

The Saving Lives at Birth project is funded by Johnson & Johnson.

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