Madagascan women are too embarrassed to ask for help giving birth — a global problem

The largely rural Androi region has been hit by a series of humanitarian crises affecting the most vulnerable, including mothers-to-be, but the distribution of simple and inexpensive maternity kits could help. , more women are now able to use a variety of services. It helps keep them and their baby healthy.

in advance of international midwife dayOn this day, celebrated on May 5th every year, midwife Jeanne Bernadine Lasoanilina from Behala, Androi region, said: united nations newsDanielle Dickinson talks about the challenges of reaching the poorest women.

“This is a very poor rural area and many women are too embarrassed to come to the health center to give birth because they don’t even have the money to pay for transportation or clean cloth to wrap their newborn.” They don’t want others to know that they are poor.

UN News/Daniel Dickinson

Mothers who come here receive all the support they need to give birth, free of charge, thanks to the government and United Nations agencies. [the UN reproductive health agency] UNFPA.[The UN Children’s Fund] UNICEF and the World Food Program (United Nations WFP) provides important nutritional advice and support that complements our work and is essential to keeping mothers and children healthy.

I’ve been doing this work for 19 years, and it still makes me really sad when women come to me who don’t have the means to take care of themselves. They may be wearing dirty clothes, which is not only a sign of poverty, but also a lack of knowledge and respect for cleanliness.

I delivered three babies last week and attended over 330 prenatal and postnatal consultations last month. So there is definitely a demand for the service.

Jeanne Bernadine Rasoanirina sits at her desk with a newly arrived maternity kit in her hands.

UN News/Daniel Dickinson

Jeanne Bernadine Rasoanirina sits at her desk with a newly arrived maternity kit in her hands.

maternity kit

240 maternity kits were delivered yesterday so I think more women will be encouraged to come to the health center [supported by UNFPA] It’s been over a year and lasts about 3 months.

The kit includes everything a mother needs to give birth, including gloves, gauze, an umbilical cord clip, a birthing syringe, as well as a cloth wrap and clothes to dress the baby. They remove the shame that mothers feel.

It’s a shame that we don’t have a consistent supply because this small item can make a big difference. This means more women will visit health centers, which are safer places to give birth. In 2023, there were only successful births. There were no fatalities. We do not know how many women gave birth at home and how many children and mothers died as a result. If a woman does not come here to give birth to a baby, she definitely risks death.


In southern Madagascar, many cultural barriers to safe childbirth still exist. It is common to have many children, sometimes as many as 10, as children are considered a symbol of wealth, even if the family does not have the means to properly care for them.

Polygamy is also practiced, with some men having up to five wives and wanting to have children with all of them. While we are here to provide information and training on these issues, we must always be sensitive to local culture. ”

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