This is the story of two women. One woman uses a piece of clean string and a clean razor blade. With it she saves, scores, hundreds, probably thousands of lives. The people she saves are mothers and their babies. The mothers have given birth where there is no medical assistance. Lack of hygiene, lack of knowledge, even some traditional practices in severing the umbilical cord provide the fertile conditions for infection. Sometimes mud or even cow dung are used to apply to the raw ends of the cord. The clean string is used simply to tie the cord and the sterile blade to cut it. .
Now the woman makes up cheap kits. They simply contain instructions, soap, sterile string and blade and some. All it takes to save two lives is a clean pad, soap, razor blade, a length of string and a set of illustrated instructions. Each kit will save 2 lives. The kits are quietly distributed to where they are needed thoughout the world.
The other woman who follows the same path. She travels to rural Central America with a small team to carry the same simple message and taking also, birthing kits with her. Year after year she returns and year after year she finds more women who, having seen the results of what she has been teaching others, wish to learn. Her course lasts 4 days. The woman educates child birth attendants to wash their hands. Thousands of women die every year because of not doing this. She educates them in the simple things that will save.
Both women know that 820,000 women die because of childbirth every year; 99% of them are in developing countries. They know that, worldwide, a woman dies in childbirth every 40 seconds. They know that three quarters of the 4 million babies who die every year could be saved by simple interventions. They know that so many women simply have no access to safe medical facilities (in Bangladesh for example only 9% of births take place in clinics or hospitals) They know the grief and suffering of so many families through these events.
So quietly, simply, they have rolled up sleeves and helped. No full spread media campaigns, no double-space TV ads, no fleets of white SUV’s, no first-class ‘celebrity spokesperson’ visits. They just do it themselves, unsung heroes, quietly saving lives…