How Does Conflict Affect Newborn Babies? Written by: Executive Director, Heidi Cortez In modern-day conflicts, civilians are increasingly exposed to war. In an estimation, since 2011, one in four people in the world live in a conflict zone. Often in these conflicts, civilian locations are bombed, including healthcare facilities. War ... Read More»
How Does Conflict Affect Newborn Babies?
Written by: Executive Director, Heidi Cortez
In modern-day conflicts, civilians are increasingly exposed to war. In an estimation, since 2011, one in four people in the world live in a conflict zone. Often in these conflicts, civilian locations are bombed, including healthcare facilities. War indirectly affects civilians by creating high-stress levels leading to trauma disorders. In our studies, we have found that war directly impacts newborn survival. A recent UNICEF report showed that Sub-Saharan Africa and South and Central Asia have the highest neonatal mortality rates. These are all areas where there is constant conflict. Our research shows a direct correlation between higher neonatal mortality rates (deaths out of 1,000 within the first 28 days of life) and war.
Newborn babies need help.
- 26 million newborns will die if nothing changes between 2019 and 2030
- In 2019, 47% of all under five deaths were newborns.
- 7,000 newborns die everyday.
- Of all child deaths under age 15, 2.5 million occurred within the first month of life
- 61% of deaths are because of poor quality of care
- 80% of newborn deaths occur from preventable causes- prematurity, infection, and asphyxia
So how exactly does conflict increase newborn deaths?
War causes trauma. Civilians exposed to conflicts have their lives turned upside down. They fear for their safeties and their families’ safeties. War forces people from their homes where they need to take shelter in a refugee camp. Many leave behind businesses and livelihoods. Many lost loved ones either in bombings, being caught in the crossfire, or directly killed by militias. It is a time of pure survival.
Now, imagine giving birth in the midst of this. Studies show that pregnant women experiencing high levels of psychosocial stress will often have a shorter gestation period. Without the proper time to develop fully, babies are born with health issues. Most commonly, they are born prematurely and with very low weight. Sadly, many pass away within the first moments of life.
This problem alone is bad enough. The indirect effects of conflict create a problem for newborn survival right out the gate. But it gets even worse. Babies born prematurely or with low birth weights will often need medical intervention. The problem now is- conflict destroys healthcare. We studied wars in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Iraq. They all follow a similar pattern. Healthcare facilities and healthcare workers are often targeted or caught in the crossfire. We have seen this in, particularly Syria and the Congo. We don’t understand it. We cannot fathom how someone would destroy something that brings health and healing to those who need it. Sadly, it is often a power move or a political ploy. Conflict also drives out skilled healthcare workers who may be in fear for their lives. The bottom line- babies born in warzones predisposed to needing healthcare will not have healthcare when they need it. So what does this mean? Mothers will often give birth at home away from a skilled birth attendant. Without a midwife, nurse, doctor, or someone trained in safe deliveries- babies are at high risk of not making it in their first 28 days.
We want to see this change!
We are working in these warzones. Saving Moses currently provides innovative solutions to combat high newborn deaths in areas of concentrated conflict. These are innovative approaches that circumvent the obstacles conflict provides. In Syria, we operate our clinics out of shipping containers to provide much-needed birth attendants for mothers at each stage of their pregnancies. In Afghanistan, we educate and then mobilize community leaders with safe birth information. They can take this knowledge to the community level and prevent needless death.
But we are far from done! If you remember the stats at the beginning of this blog, 7,000 babies die every day. Most of them die from preventable causes. This stat lights a fire in us to do something. We plan to expand our BirthAid program to all areas where conflict is causing high neonatal mortality rates. We have our eyes set on countries like Yemen, Somalia, and Iraq. We will fight to help babies, no matter where they are born, have a future.
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT BABIES ACROSS THE WORLD?
By: Director of Operations, Heidi Cortez
In global humanitarian work, there is a question we are often asked- Why should I care about what happens to babies and toddlers I will never meet that live in a country I will never visit? Or why should I help babies and toddlers in other countries when there is a need here in the US? Here are some reasons why we do the work that we do:
A Commitment to a Bigger Backyard
One of my friends spent several months in South Sudan working in education. People would ask her why she didn’t work in the US or “in her own back yard.” Her response was, “I just have a bigger back yard than you.”
Before we were a citizen of any country, we are a human. Our humanity is what connects us. It transcends all borders and divisions. While our experiences, culture, and language may differ, we have the same emotions, desires, and fears. Our humanity unites us. I have personally sat mother to mother with a lady in Cambodia who was suffering from Aids. We both cried because she expressed her desire to “just be a good mom,” an ache I share daily for my son.
When we expand our backyard, we expand. We see the humanity in everyone and honor it. We expand our personal borders to caring about people we may never meet and countries we will never visit. We are better global citizens who have a deep care for others around the world. It fosters a love inside of us that is for everyone.
A Commitment to Serving
One argument for not helping those in other countries is that you do not know what that country needs unless you are from that country. You do not understand their culture, systems, language, and problems- so how can you help? For this, we wholeheartedly agree! We don’t know any of these things, so we work hand in hand with people on the ground who do. We tap into the local knowledge and perspectives of local people and utilize their knowledge to inform our programs. We have often adjusted our programs based on their insights. Our goal is to serve the local populations. We do not come with all the answers to save the day. No, we view ourselves as allies and helpers, not leaders and saviors.
A Commitment to Least Available
While there are opportunities for change in the US, we are the wealthiest nation on the planet. We have the resources that many other countries do not. I am in no way saying our systems are perfect, and there is no need. But, we are much more equipped to help those in need. I have traveled to countries and have seen babies and toddlers living in extreme conditions. In Africa, I held babies and toddlers who were skin and bone, fighting for survival because of absolutely no nutrition. In Asia, I witnessed low to no services available for abused babies and toddlers stuck in the sex industry. These problems are widespread, affecting thousands upon thousands of babies and toddlers every year. Many of these foreign governments are either unwilling or unable to help, which is too heartbreaking to imagine.
With all of these commitments, the main point is to do something, anything to help. For you, that may mean in your neighborhood, and that is okay. But for others, it may mean crossing country lines and helping a baby or toddler who needs it. If so, we would love to have you join us and save babies where help is most needed but least available.
In global humanitarian work, there is a question we are often asked- Why should I care about what happens to babies and toddlers I will never meet that live in a country I will never visit? Or why should I help babies and toddlers in other countries when there is a need here in the US? Read More»
Written by: Communications and Logistics Coordinator, McKenzie Thompson
In 2019, we saved a total of 9,506 babies and toddlers! That means that together, we saved 4,764 MORE little ones last year compared to the previous year in 2018.
We could not have done that without YOU!
B I R T H A I D
We cared for 3,816 babies and pregnant mothers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. We provided community-based education on safe birthing practices and infant care, skilled birth attendants to assist in safe births, pediatrician visits for babies and toddlers, pregnancy well-woman visits, and breastfeeding education.
These regions have been devastated by war for years, and hospitals and clinics are primary targets during conflicts. Because of this, access to healthcare is minimal. Many women and their children live too far from a healthcare facility where they can safely give birth or receive care and cannot afford to travel. That challenge, plus the lack of knowledge of safe birthing practices and infant care, lead to many preventable deaths. Thanks to our BirthAid program, nearly 4,000 women and their babies received the necessary and essential care that they needed.
- helped 71 babies be born safely
- provided doctor visits for 3,745 children under the age of 5
- gave 1,126 pregnant women consultations in 2019
M A L N U T R I T I O N
5,207 babies and toddlers were cured of malnutrition in Africa last year! High food insecurity, caused by constant conflict, drought, and poverty, has made Severe Acute Malnutrition prevalent in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Currently, 37.6% of children under 5 in Angola and 42.7% in the DRC, suffer from this disease. We provide those babies and toddlers with therapeutic milk specially formulated to give them all the nutrients they need. We now have an 89.5% success rate in our malnutrition clinics, which means that most babies who come, get better, and can return home. We are at our lowest withdrawal rate ever, at 6%, meaning most babies stay at the clinic until their treatment is complete, resulting in higher cure rates!
Saving Moses saved 488 MORE babies from malnutrition last year than we did in 2018!
N I G H T C A R E
We protected 483 babies and toddlers from the sex industry in 2019. They received a safe place to sleep, a warm bath, clean clothes, a nutritious meal, playtime, and therapeutic care from our nannies every night. Without NightCare, many of them grow up in brothels, sleep on the streets, or experience abuse and neglect. Your support allows these babies to be kids and live a happy, healthy life. We also opened two new NightCare centers in Bangladesh and India and were able to protect 167 MORE babies in 2019 than in 2018.
In 2019, we provided 32,894 NightCare visits to babies and toddlers.
Cambodia: 153 new babies attended NightCare, 285 babies total attended NightCare, and we provided 25,099 NightCare visits to babies growing up in the sex industry.
India: We opened our first center in this country, protected 10 babies from the sex industry, and provided 80 visits.
Bangladesh: We opened our second center in this country, 148 new babies attended NightCare, 188 babies total were cared for, and overall, we provided 7,715 visits in the NightCare center.
We cannot wait to keep growing, changing lives, and saving babies with you. To read more details on 2019, check out our official Annual Report HERE.
Thank you for all that you do to support this cause,
The Saving Moses Team
Written by: Communications and Logistics Coordinator, McKenzie Thompson In 2019, we saved a total of 9,506 babies and toddlers! That means that together, we saved 4,764 MORE little ones last year compared to the previous year in 2018. We could not have done that without YOU! B I R T H A I D We... Read More»
Work with Children, End Poverty
Written by Regional NightCare Director, Matt Nathaniel
Note: Reference to children includes babies and toddlers too.
The world, in general, is not in the way it ought to be. Our greatest concern is poverty. The genuinely poor are those robbed of the ability to make choices for themselves – the choice for safe and clean water, the choice of education, the choice of protection from abuse, the choice of medical care, the choice of participation, the choice of development and more.
Children are Almost Half of the World’s Extreme Poor
1 in 7 people live in extreme poverty, or over 900 million people live in extreme poverty. Of these, a shockingly high number are children. Specifically, 47% of all people living in extreme poverty across the world are 18 years old or younger. These poor children will grow up to be poor adults. It indicates the need for child rights intervention.
Children are the Most Excluded Social Group
Research says children are the most oppressed and excluded social groups. The exclusion of children is not only subjected to children who suffer from various physical, mental, and social disadvantages, but it’s an issue common among most children. The problem is with our understanding of who children are and how we see and treat them.
The Most Powerless Members of Society are Children
We often see children being punished or ill-treated or abused just because they cannot retaliate due to their limitations. Harming a child is not an act of power. It conveys the fact that we are powerless. The bitter truth is, when the child experiences abuse, it grows in fear and misplaced trust. The babies Saving Moses works with are often subjected to mistreatment, abuse, and torture, either by their mother or the clients. They are always at risk.
Finding the Poor
A decade ago, I visited a government-run orphanage home in the south of India. On my very first visit, I noticed something strange. Throughout the two hours I spent with the babies in that center, the babies remained quiet. It simply did not add up. Being a father of a five-year-old, I know how much sound (crying in particular), part of a child’s communication mechanism is – whether to acknowledge or revolt or negotiate or attract the attention. Those babies probably cried at one time. They once tried to acknowledge, revolt, negotiate, or attract the attention of others. But help probably never came. And they probably decided to accept their reality and remain silent. We must go in search of the poor. It must be us who should take those first steps. We have to find those in need. We must become intentional in the way we defend the rights of children.
Seeing the Potential in Each Child
Each child deserves the right to protection, but they also deserve the opportunity to unleash their potential as they grow. Can you imagine the opportunity we as adults have for creating an impact in the lives of the little ones? When we invest our resources in them, we invest not only in their future but also in the future of society. Investing in children’s life is a gesture for the common good. Children have the potential to become agents of change.
Children Transform Us
As much as we must commit to impact the lives of the young ones, we can experience transformation through them. When we begin to see the world through the eyes of a child, we can only become pure in our hearts and minds. Children have the untainted inner faculties for creative imagination, conscience, connectedness, and intuition. Every time we spend time with children and babies, we experience change, change for better.
Working with children is urgent in terms of their vulnerability; at the same time, it is an excellent opportunity for change because they are the future. Below are three principles we all should remember.
a. Care for children because they are the most vulnerable.
b. Invest in children because they are the future, and we can break the cycle of poverty.
c. Spend time with children because they change us for the better.
Work with Children, End Poverty Written by Regional NightCare Director, Matt Nathaniel Note: Reference to children includes babies and toddlers too. The world, in general, is not in the way it ought to be. Our greatest concern is poverty. The genuinely poor are those robbed of the ability to make choices for themselves – the... Read More»