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Supporting Maternal and Child Health

  • May 4, 2010

Far too many mothers struggle to get medical care for themselves and their children. In some countries, mothers camp on hospital grounds for days waiting to see a doctor. Many go without food for themselves so they can afford medicines for their children. Maternal mortality remains a crisis, particularly among vulnerable women around the world and in the United States.

AmeriCares hopes to make it easier for mothers, and their children, to get the medicines and health care they so desperately need. In addition to strategic maternal and pediatric programs, AmeriCares helps prevent birth defects and protect the health of expectant moms by delivering prenatal vitamins. Last year, nearly $5 million worth of prenatal vitamins were shipped worldwide.

In honor of Mother’s Day, AmeriCares shares stories from around the world. 


Maternal mortality is a silent epidemic in Africa where hundreds of thousands of women die each year from preventable childbirth complications. Often, new mothers hemorrhage to death, which is easily prevented with the right medicines and medical supplies.

Most recently, AmeriCares delivered Methergine, a medication which shortens labor and helps prevent women from bleeding to death during childbirth. Nearly $100,000 worth of the critical medicine was sent to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Ghana where it is in short supply.

“This is truly a lifesaving medicine for which there is no substitute,” said AmeriCares Medical Director Dr. Frank Bia. “Because of this one donation, AmeriCares will help more than 8,000 women experience the joys of motherhood. Too many women in the developing world die before they have the chance to hold their newborn in their arms.”


Nearly four months after a devastating earthquake rocked Haiti, families still mourn victims of the disaster. Tent cities have swelled with 1.2 million homeless people — many of them mothers and their young children.

Many hospitals and clinics providing care for mothers and their children were destroyed. A great deal of medicines and supplies were ruined in the disaster; what remained was quickly depleted caring for throngs of earthquake survivors.

In response to the needs of mothers and their young children, AmeriCares has delivered more than $7.5 million in medical aid for maternal and child health in Haiti since the earthquake.

Improving maternal and child health is one of the goals of AmeriCares $50 million pledge to help rebuild Haiti’s health care system.

Latin America     

Ana Deisy Perez works hard to support her family, including Miguel her young son who suffers from crippling cerebral palsy. Abandoned by her husband, Ana Deisy cleans houses, picks coffee beans, sells tamales – anything to help her family. Her home consists of two cement walls and a third made from broken, scavenged furniture. For Ana Deisy’s family, there’s little left beyond the basics. So when someone needs help, she faces tough decisions.

But deciding where to seek medical care is easy — the AmeriCares Family Clinic in El Salvador.

“When my sons and I need to see a doctor or get a prescription, the clinic is there for us,” said Ana Deisy. “The whole staff is so caring and thorough — I really don’t know what we would do without them.”

United States    

AmeriCares is expanding deliveries of pediatric antibiotics across the United States.

“Children have distinct health needs, which means they require special medications,” said Americares Medical Director Dr. Frank Bia. “The dosing must conform to a child’s weight and the medication should be easy to take. Simply put, the pills should be smaller and liquids should taste better.”

Because AmeriCares delivers free medications to children’s health clinics, moms throughout the U.S. have resources to help when their kids get sick. Denise from Austin, Texas is one of those moms.

When Denise lost her job — and her health insurance — her first thought was of her son, Anthony, who suffers with serious asthma. Fortunately, Denise — and many moms like her — can bring their children to receive free health care and medicine thanks to the Dell Children’s Medical Center, Children’s Health Fund and AmeriCares.

“When you have a sick child, you want to give him everything he needs to get better,” said Denise. “Costs add up quickly — $10 for cough medicine, $30 for a new asthma inhaler, $20 for throat spray, $80 for asthma pills – that’s about half of our monthly grocery budget! If it weren’t for the free medicine at the mobile clinic, I don’t know what we’d do.”

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