Impoverished Sana’a mothers to receive low-cost medical care [Archives:2008/1164/Local News]

June 16 2008

SANA'A, June 14 ) A new project focusing on expectant and new mothers will provide services to more than 40,000 women in the poorest districts of Sana'a.

Last week, a $6.23 million grant was approved for the Queen of Sheba Motherhood Project, an initiative introduced and sponsored by the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid, with the World Bank acting as administrator. In this new program, the Global Partnership will subsidize 90 percent of the care costs for each mother, according to a World Bank statement released last week.

Only around a quarter of births in Yemen are facilitated by a skilled birth attendant and one in every 39 women die in childbirth. A number of programs, including initiatives by the German Technical Corporation, known as GTZ, and the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, have increased funding and training for safe motherhood projects in light of the country's dire needs.

The United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA, estimates that 84 percent of women throughout Yemen give birth at home. Those women who experience complications during childbirth sometimes refuse to be taken to hospitals due to lack of female staff; consequently, many Yemeni women die needlessly during childbirth. According to the UNFPA, an estimated 75 percent of maternal mortalities in Yemen are preventable. With the help of two private medical companies, the Saudi-Yemen Healthcare Company and Al-Mawarid Company for Educational and Health Services, the project will improve pre- and post-natal maternal care.

Expectant mothers will receive checkups and birthing assistance at satellite clinics, while the two companies' affiliated hospitals will provide critical care for those patients who need it. The program also aims to provide Sana'a mothers skilled birthing attendants, something the country desperately lacks.

Both the Saudi-Yemeni Healthcare Company and Al-Mawarid Company for Educational Services will have to pay for the services out of pocket and will only be reimbursed by the Global Partnership after having provided the promised care.

A local non-governmental organization, SOUL for the Development of Women and Children, will help get the word out to Sana'a's poorer neighborhoods that mothers there are eligible to receive these prenatal and post-natal benefits.

The Queen of Sheba Safe Motherhood Project is a four-year community-based outreach program, according to the International Monetary Fund, a division of the World Bank.