International (MNN) — Out of 100,000 births around the world, more than 250 mothers die in labor. That's about 320,000 mothers around the world who die giving birth. While one organization says that's a decrease from previous statistics, it's still too high for Medical Teams International.
President of MTI Bas Vanderzalm says, "Most women in the developing world have their children in places where they have no clinics; there are no doctors. They depend largely on midwives for the care they receive. In many cases, the children are born in huts or sometimes even out in the fields."
Many times these women die from infections, or they simply bleed to death.
Medical Teams International has a solution — training. Vanderzalm says they are training midwives and local health officials. "We help them know what to do to deliver children safely. We give them some of the materials they need. We also help to arrange for transportation for mothers when they are at risk."
Vanderzalm says your participation can make a difference. "$10 helps us provide a 'Mama Kit' to a mother going through childbirth. That kit includes a plastic sheet, razor blade, soap, latex gloves, sterile cotton pads, and some thread. It doesn't seem like a lot to us here, but it can save the life of a mother."
While helping physically is important, Vandersalm says, "We do all of this in the context of the church and the faith-based community in the area. We serve everyone in need, and anybody who needs help gets assistance. But we want to be sure that the work that we do points people to a loving God and to faith in Christ."
When a mother dies, Vanderzalm says, "It's a terrible loss to the entire family–obviously to the child that's just been born and often to brothers and sisters and the family that counts on the mother. We can prevent [much of] that in many of these communities by training midwives."
Medical Teams International is working in Africa and Central America.