Maternal and Child Health


For more than 100 years, Rotarians have joined together from all continents, cultures, and industries to take action in our communities and around the world. With a commitment to achieving lasting change, we work together to empower youth, enhance health, promote peace, and most important, advance the community. While Rotarians can serve in countless ways, Rotary has focused its efforts in six areas, which reflect some of the most critical and widespread humanitarian needs. The area of focus for the month of April is Maternal and Child Health.

Globally, an estimated 5.9 million children under the age of five die each year because of malnutrition, inadequate health care, and poor sanitation — all of which can be prevented. Rotary makes high-quality health care available to vulnerable mothers and children so they can live longer and grow stronger. We expand access to quality care, so mothers and children everywhere can have the same opportunities for a healthy future. Rotary provides education, immunizations, birth kits, and mobile health clinics. Women are taught how to prevent mother-to-infant HIV transmission and how to protect themselves and their children from disease. Rotary members teach mothers how to breast-feed, promote immunizations and regular check-ups, distribute clean birth kits and train health workers in safe delivery of babies. Rotary programs improve women’s access to skilled health personnel: doctors, nurses, midwives, or community health care workers. The Rotary Foundation reaches mothers and children in need by giving communities the help and training they need to take control of their own maternal and infant health care.

Rotary makes amazing things happen, like:

Mobile prenatal clinics

Haiti has the highest maternal and infant mortality rate of any country in the western hemisphere. Rotary provided a fully equipped medical Jeep to volunteers and midwives to reach mothers and children in remote areas.

Cancer screening

Rotarians provided a mobile cancer-screening unit and awareness trainings around Chennai, India, where there is a high mortality rate of women with breast and cervical cancer due to late diagnosis.

Preventing injuries and deaths

Rotary members launched a US$3 million, five-year pilot to save lives of mothers and children during home deliveries in Nigeria. Since 2005, they’ve also repaired 1,500 obstetric fistulas — 500 more than their initial goal — restoring dignity and hope to vulnerable mothers.

Maternity packs

In 2006 Fundasaun Alola began distributing maternity packs for Dili and Baucau hospitals with the objective of supporting safe hospital birth. Alola recruited staff at the Taibessi sewing center to produce the packs. Fundasaun Alola also trained. The maternity packs help encourage the women to give birth in hospital where they and their babies have the best chance of surviving childbirth and they can receive the care and advice they need for a healthier start in life. 

Tips For Success

  • Ensure sustainability by empowering the local community to take ownership of health training programs.
  • Consult Rotarians who are trained in maternal and newborn health care such as midwives, obstetricians, and gynecologists.
  • Partner with outside organizations with expertise in maternal and child health.
  • Be culturally sensitive to the community’s beliefs surrounding contraception. By doing so, you will foster a good working relationship and better meet the needs of the community.

What You Can Do

  • Provide education about and access to contraceptives for use in maternal health projects. Meeting the unmet need for contraception alone could reduce the number of maternal deaths by nearly one third.
  • Provide birthing kits to health professionals.
  • Support accredited training programs for health professionals.
  • Promote good nutrition, including encouraging breastfeeding for most women.
  • Provide immunizations and antibiotics. Measles, malaria, pneumonia, AIDS, and diarrheal diseases are the leading causes of death in children under five.

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