WHO WE ARE
Founded in 2010, The Dame Jane Foundation (TDJF) is an independent health and education charity based in Auckland, New Zealand with the primary intention to improve women’s health, in particular maternal mortality outcomes – covering the period when women are pregnant, give birth and those early few weeks after birth. We no longer want to live in a world where a woman dies giving birth almost every minute of every day. Instead we want to contribute to a more sustainable and fairer world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every newborn is healthy.
Recognizing the Foundation’s efforts, mission and vision, TDJF was accredited with UN ECOSOC Special Consultative Status on July 2018.
REVIEW OF CURRENT MATERNAL HEALTH ISSUES
Maternal health is a key element of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal on health and well-being (Goal 3). The UN has set two explicit targets relating to maternal health:
Target 3.1: By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births.
Target 3.2: By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1000 live births.
These are ambitious targets. UN countries have made concerted efforts between 1990 to 2015 to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio. Under Millennium Development Goal 5 they sought to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio by 75%. Global efforts reduced the ratio by 44% so that in 2015 the global maternal mortality ratio was 216 deaths per 100,000 live births compared with 385 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990.
Around 800 women are dying each day from complications in pregnancy and childbirth, most commonly from blood loss. And for every woman who dies, approximately 20 others suffer serious injuries, infections or disabilities (UNICEF). Over 99 per cent of the maternal deaths that occur could be prevented if women had access to skilled health personnel to assist with the birth; and timely access to emergency care when complications arise.
Poverty is the key cause that prevents women from having access to the health services they need during pregnancy and childbirth. Sadly, for this reason, many of our neighboring Pacific Island Countries in the Oceania region are over-represented in maternal mortality statistics.
We recognize that maternal health is not a “women’s issue”. It is about the integrity of communities, societies and nations, and the well-being of all the men, women, boys and girls whose own prospects in life depend upon healthy women and mothers.
Our focus is on education. We are working to improve the quality and availability of maternal health services, with a focus on midwifery and maternal nursing services. We are also working to raise awareness of the disparities in maternal health care across the world and the devastating impact on families that inadequate care can bring. Through our efforts, we hope to improve women’s experience in childbirth and encourage more people to get involved in making the world a better place.
Our maternal health project – upskilling to deliver – is about improving the health skills of maternal nurses and midwives to deliver long-term reductions in preventable deaths (mortality) and serious health conditions (morbidity) associated with pregnancy and childbirth.
There are a couple of ways we seek to do this. We seek to increase: direct investment in the education of midwives and related professions; and investment in faculty development – to improve the quality of the teaching staff and facilities in universities, hospitals and other medical training institutions so they can offer higher quality courses to midwifery students. Better skilled medical staff and higher quality facilities and services not only helps to save lives, it also helps to ensure a positive and fulfilling experience for women, and their families, during this special time in their lives.
Maternal health outcomes can be further enhanced by educating mothers and their families. An individual’s health, their lifestyle and mental state are all important factors in achieving good maternal health outcomes and ensuring a positive experience. Part of the investment in upskilling midwives and related professions is intended to improve communication skills so they can teach people planning or preparing for childbirth. This includes informing people about when and how to access the medical and other services that are available to assist them. Greater understanding helps to connect people to the services that best suits them and helps the patients contribute to achieving a better overall experience for themselves, the baby and other family members.
We actively and continually seek any organizations; governmental, private or non-profit who are interested to form collaborative partnership with us, so as to achieve the goals that the Foundation aims to accomplish.
A vital partnership was formed when University of Technology Sydney (UTS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a program proposal with TDJF on October 2017 to build Faculty Capacity and Development Course for Teaching and Assessment Skills for Midwives and Nurses which will be delivered to universities in order to upskill the educators of midwives in Pacific Island Countries, to lower maternal mortality rate.
Our secondary focus aims to assist the development of a healthier generation of mother and children in the Pacific Islands, in general. Poverty and lack of hygiene in Pacific Island countries have created and exacerbated other health issues such as hearing disability and asthma.
For this reason, we have committed ourselves to help children with hearing disability in Fiji. We are currently building association with Frank Hilton Organization (FHO) who has been organizing existing efforts there and we are ready to donate hearing aids to the children identified by FHO.
In line with the efforts to upskill the medical staff, TDJF has drafted an MOU with Asthma NZ who is committed to provide nurses who can educate midwives on asthma and use of nebulizers / spacers. Asthma NZ has also agreed to donate nebulizers for the Foundation to distribute to those who are in need in Pacific Island Countries. Furthermore, Medical Aid Abroad had agreed to provide birthing kits to be given to midwives in Fiji through TDJF.
The Foundation looks forward to put its mission and vision into action where help is needed in the Pacific Islands region. Global maternal mortality ratio needs to be reduced to less than 70 per 100 000 live births while deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age need to be prevented by 2030. We hope to work with any interested party who share the same goals.