Rep. Granger Applauds CARE's Successful Maternal Health Work in Peru and Around the World

Thursday, June 17, 2010 General News
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-- New Case Study Highlights CARE's Model Program that Led to a 50 Percent Reduction in Maternal Deaths --

WASHINGTON, June 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) today led a briefing on Capitol Hill to bring critical attention to the dire maternal health situation facing millions of women around the globe. Representative Granger just returned from a CARE Learning Tour to Peru, a comprehensive, multi-day trip where she gained firsthand knowledge of the maternal health challenges and triumphs in the region and around the world. Joining her at the Capitol Hill briefing were Christy Turlington Burns, CARE maternal health advocate; Anita McBride, former chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush; and Mark Dybul, former head of PEPFAR.

Maternal mortality is nothing short of a global epidemic. Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of women die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth each year - that's one woman dying nearly every minute of every day. And millions more are left with life-altering disabilities. In some countries, one in seven women dies in pregnancy or childbirth.

"These women aren't dying because the global health community doesn't know how to prevent their deaths; they are dying because the world has not stepped up and helped," said Rep. Granger. "Peru has stepped up. They have not just set goals. They have made a significant difference in maternal mortality that can be replicated in countries around the world if they take the practical steps Peru has taken." As the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Granger will continue to support lifesaving child and maternal health programs around the world.

A new case study released by leading humanitarian organization CARE applauds the success of its Foundations to Enhance Management of Maternal Emergencies (FEMME) program, a program developed in partnership with Columbia University's Averting Maternal Death and Disability Program, in the remote highland region of Ayacucho, Peru, where the community experienced a 50 percent reduction in maternal deaths.

According to Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE, "In just five years, Ayacucho went from one of the worst to one of the best in terms of reducing maternal mortality by implementing the right interventions. When women have access to skilled care during pregnancy and birth, quality emergency obstetrical care and other interventions that respect cultural diversity, we can save women's lives."

CARE is scaling up its FEMME program across Peru, while also helping to implement a similar model in nearby Bolivia along with other life-saving interventions such as voluntary family planning and newborn care. CARE is examining how these successful interventions can be incorporated in other maternal health programming around the world.

Although Peru has been recognized as a lower middle-income country, it still has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in South America, estimated to be 240 deaths per 100,000 live births.(1) These ratios vary across the country, but they are higher in the remote highland regions like Ayacucho. Adding to the impact is the fact that maternal mortality disproportionately strikes poorer and indigenous communities, reflecting the enormous levels of inequity - and ultimately discrimination - within Peruvian society.

"Today, three times as many births are delivered by a skilled health care provider in a health facility," Granger continued. "That's a significant accomplishment in a country where previously the vast majority of births were in the home, most unattended. In pilot programs in rural villages, such as the one I saw on my recent CARE Learning Tour, the experience of pregnant women is monthly checkups, a birthing plan for delivery in a regional facility, and attendance by highly-trained nurses and physicians. Women's lives are valued in Peru at every level. They have cut their maternal mortality rate in half and are focused on continuing to fund additional improvements."

CARE's case study on the FEMME program contrasts the experiences of Antonia and Gardenia, two Peruvian women who faced life-threatening obstetric emergencies during childbirth. Antonia died because the health system failed her, while Gardenia survived because maternal health investments were made in her community.

The study identifies eight proven strategies that reduced maternal mortality in the community:

"The global community can help determine whether a mother will suffer Antonia's fate or triumph like Gardenia. We need the financial resources and political will to replicate Peru's successful program and continue to save women's lives. Maternal health must be prioritized and include proven interventions like those used in CARE's FEMME program," adds Dr. Gayle.

With more than 50 years of experience and success developing and implementing maternal and child health programs, CARE is in a unique position to improve maternal and newborn health at the local, national and global levels. CARE works directly with women and communities, empowering them with services and information while affecting policies to ensure that safe pregnancy and childbirth are upheld as basic human rights.

Read more about the success of CARE's FEMME program in Ayacucho, Peru at

About CARE:

Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity. To learn more, visit


(1) WHO. 2007. Maternal mortality in 2005: estimates developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the World Bank.

-- Implement national guidelines to standardize the management of obstetric and newborn emergencies across the region and country -- Establish a regional training system for obstetric and newborn emergencies -- Use international standards to measure the availability, use and quality of emergency obstetric care -- Conduct clinical audits to review the standardized management of obstetric emergencies and determine if updating is needed -- Work with health providers at all levels to develop a referral and counter-referral system -- Establish systems to prevent infections in obstetric and neonatal centers -- Apply human rights, gender and cultural approaches to health services and promote regional public policies through multi-sectoral committees focused on reducing maternal mortality -- Establish an implementation, monitoring and supervision system for obstetric emergencies


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