The Healthy Mothers and Babies Project aims to reduce high maternal and infant death and illness as well as improve child nutrition levels. The project is part of a broader program that tackles women’s health education in two ways: firstly, raising awareness of health issues among women working in the garment industry; and secondly, strengthening systems for ensuring that rural women can get hospital-based care in emergencies.
Healthy Mothers and Babies is a multifaceted program that mainly targets women in the garment industry. Key activities included
1) A study to understand the maternal and child health needs of women working in the garment industry.
Completed, in partnership with International Labour Organisation,
2. A study focusing on caregivers of children under two years
The study indicated that in the five provinces, children under two children spent a significant amount of time each day in the care of secondary caregivers, particularly grandmothers and older siblings.
As a result, the program will be tailored to address issues faced by mothers with regard to care and feeding, but will also improve services for secondary caregivers to ensure they have the required skills and knowledge.
3. Communications to reach the women in clothing factories
A multi-layered approach to communication to reach the women in clothing factories where the clothing brand has not been willing to facilitate the work themselves.
- A pilot program is being conducted in a factory in Prey Veng Province to provide valuable information on how CARE and it partners can be successful in gaining access to this sector of the industry.
- CARE created cohesion among government agencies to facilitate cooperation in reaching these women. A meeting held in May 2012 in Prey Veng Province convinced the Labour, Women’s Affairs, and Health departments to form a technical working group under the Provincial Deputy Governor.
- The first train-the-trainer session for those who will train the health awareness Peer Educators in Prey Veng was held in April 2012. The training was held over three days and covered topics such as facilitation of peer groups, maternal health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS and family planning. There were twenty participants from the Provincial Department of Labor, Health and Women’s Affairs. The pilot also works closely with garment factory management.
4) A pilot project to test whether Village Savings and Loan Associations could help to financially sustain Emergency referral systems for maternity/births.
Between 2007 and 2010, CARE worked with 70 villages in Koh Kong Province to establish systems that would ensure transportation for women who required emergency obstetric services and skilled birth attendance from a referral hospital. These systems, called Village Emergency Referral Systems (VERS), train and equip local people to assess injury, illness or complications, to take correct first aid steps, and then to arrange transport to hospital if required.
The communities placed high value on VERS but they have been difficult to sustain financially.
In 2012, a pilot project was designed to test whether Village Savings and Loan Associations could help to financially sustain VERS. Then, with its partners, CARE trained twenty staff, whose job it will be to engage and train communities in how to successfully and accountably manage a Village Savings and Loan association.
Thyda's story: My important job.
In a bustling garment factory in Phnom Penh, Thyda Pin (pictured) earns a living sewing clothes. Thyda grew up in Svay Reang Province but, like so many, moved to Phnom Penh to get a job to help support her family. The garment industry employs 350,000 people in Cambodia. Many of the women working in garment factories are vulnerable to exploitation because they have migrated to unfamiliar cities, have little formal education, poor health literacy and limited experience managing their income.
Thyda Pin holds an important role at the factory, working as a Peer Educator to share health information with her co-workers. Peer education sessions in factories cover topics such as maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, microfinance savings and remittance tools. Education sessions are run during the factory lunch break so that all workers have an opportunity to participate.
‘I never thought I would have the ability to provide information to other people. After the training I became a member of the Peer Educator [program] and I feel excited that I can talk with my friends [factory workers] about information relating to health,’ she says.
Thyda Pin’s story illustrates the work that will be done by Peer Educators trained under the current program. The sessions cover a variety of information. A maternal and child health session, for example, covers information such as healthy pregnancy and childbirth, caring for yourself and your infant after childbirth, knowing how to get help, and knowing your rights. These sessions are designed to be interactive and engage participants in discussion.
CARE will work with local partners and community health workers in Koh Kong and Mondulkiri provinces to deliver a range of low cost, community based and sustainable strategies to improve reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health.
This project will cover
- Community based education and communication sessions conducted about maternal and infant health and nutrition.
- Staff costs to strengthen the capacity of community based organisations to design programs to meet needs of local communities.
- Facilitation of evaluation and planning sessions with women and girls
- Monitoring and evaluation
Objectives, Aims and Outcomes
The project aims to reduce maternal and infant mortality (death) and morbidity (illness), and improve child nutrition levels.
CARE is committed to working toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal Number 5 – to Improve Maternal Health
- To create demand for safe and affordable health services
- To increase the number of communities that are able to manage common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections
- To improve the coverage and quality of health services for women and children
- To support men and women to access choice to safe and affordable health services
- To encourage awareness of the reasons for and consequences of poor maternal and child health with local members and authorities.
- Increasing the skills of birth attendants
- Providing facilities for birth delivery
- Strengthening the capacity of emergency, obstetric and newborn services.
- Increasing community awareness of maternal health and nutrition
Image: Josh Estey/CARE
Cambodia lags significantly behind in achieving the Millennium Development Goals related to maternal and infant mortality, and recent surveys suggest that poor nutrition is at near-critical levels in many rural areas.
CARE will partner with Provincial health departments, village health support groups and commune councils.
How the project fits into a broader strategy
This project forms part of CARE’s Program Strategy for Cambodia by working with the most vulnerable populations, including those in remote rural areas and socially excluded ethnic minorities. The Vulnerable Women Program is aimed at improving access to quality health services, developing income generation opportunities, increasing access to affordable finance and improving access to markets for rural women.
In all our activities CARE complies with the Australian Government‘s Family Planning and the Aid Program: Guiding Principles. Under these principles the Australia Government and agencies such as CARE commit to provide the same range of reproductive health and family planning services for women in developing countries as are provided for women in Australia, subject to the national laws of the relevant nation concerned.