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Maternal health in Togo improves after three-year charity project

23 June 2023

COMPASSION UK

A PROJECT working with churches to support pregnant women and new babies in Togo, West Africa, has significantly improved maternal health and child-survival rates.

The Christian charity Compassion UK said that its three-year child-survival programme, funded in part by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, had reached thousands of pregnant women and babies, and raised survival rates.

Togo has one of the worst child-survival rates for new mothers and infants: 386 women per 100,000 die in childbirth, and 63 babies in every 1000 die before their first birthday.

The three-year, £1-million Different Path project placed a child-survival implementer in each community. The local implementers have a medical background, and carry out home visits, distributing malaria nets and food supplements, and giving financial support to women to attend antenatal classes and health check-ups. Each of the women then had a medical professional at the birth, and the babies were given vaccinations and post-natal follow-ups.

Compassion UK worked in partnership with 23 local churches to set up the project, ensuring that it was embedded in, and accepted by, the local community.

The charity’s development and programme manager, Paul Dymott, said: “The statistics before we began the Different Path project were startling. But, three years after we began, the results are just as startling, and show how, when you put development funding into the hands of local experts, and run projects in partnership with local churches and organisations, lasting impact is achievable.”

At the end of the three-year project, there was a sharp rise in exclusive breastfeeding by new mothers, and in births attended by a professional, and 93 per cent of babies were born at a healthy birth-weight.

Abla, a mother who participated in the project, said: “Before being enrolled in the project, I had already given birth to a premature child who just lived a few days and died. I was registered with a pregnancy, and the same problems came back already in the fifth month.

“I often got sick, but my husband did not take anything seriously, especially relying on his mother, who says usually that she has ten children but has never been to the hospital with either the pregnancies or the children.

“When I was enrolled in the Survival project, I was consulted by a midwife of the local health centre, who, after the examinations, diagnosed me with severe malaria, which can easily cause my pregnancy to fail or make me give birth prematurely. They referred me to a bigger hospital for better care.

“I gave birth to a beautiful girl, whom we named Claire. The survival implementer and the volunteer visit me every month, and the lessons that they deliver help me to take good care of my baby, myself, and my husband.”

Compassion UK will continue to fund the survival implementers until local churches can fund them themselves. It currently runs survival projects in 26 countries.

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