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‘No woman today should have to give birth in a stable’

The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies,
The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies,
The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies,

AS CHRISTIANS celebrate the birth of a baby in a stable, a bishop is joining an appeal to help improve standards of childbirth in poor countries. The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, is supporting Christian Aid’s appeal this Christmas to help save the lives of women and babies in Kenya and Malawi where having a child can be perilous. It is estimated that a woman is 40 times more likely to die in labour in Kenya than in the UK with many still giving birth in dirty and dangerous places.

The UK Government has promised to match every pound raised in Wales for the appeal. Bishop John, who is chair of the Christian Aid Wales Committee and a member of the Board of Trustees of Christian Aid, says, “NHS performance in the UK seems to come under almost daily scrutiny. It’s easy, then, to overlook the fact that for millions around the world, especially many of the most vulnerable, healthcare is not a right but a scarce luxury. “Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal focuses upon the risks faced by mothers and their new-born children in Kenya and Malawi.

It’s a particularly appropriate area upon which to focus, coming at a time of year when even people of little or no faith have at least some awareness of the stories about the birth of Jesus in a stable. The Appeal reminds us, in a crisp and clear way that birth in such surroundings, with little or no medical help, remains the dangerous and risk-fi lled norm for many. “I’m very pleased to be able to endorse the Appeal and to welcome the pledge made by the UK Government to support it so generously.”

Cathrin Daniel, Head of Christian Aid in Wales said, “This Christmas help us deliver hope by giving more than 68,000 women access to improved health services, providing life-saving immunisations to 130,000 children under fi ve and training more than 1,000 community health workers. We will also work with local authorities to enable them to provide crucial maternal and child healthcare long term.” When hospitals are far away, and transport is too expensive, or nonexistent, women are often forced to give birth in dirty and dangerous conditions.

Around 40,000 newborns die in Kenya each year, most of those deaths could be prevented with basic health education and facilities. In rural Narok County, southwest Kenya, Christian Aid’s partner organisations TRDP and ADSMKE train community health workers and traditional birth attendants to support expectant mothers, bringing new life safely into the world.

They have provided three village motorbikes and ambulances to get women safely to hospital and built three maternity wings at rural hospitals, equipping them with everything from delivery beds to incubators. Just £5 could provide a day’s training for a community health worker, £13 could buy clean sheets for two beds where new mothers give birth and £35 would pay for a motherto- mother support group session for 50 women. Up until 6 February 2015 the UK Government will double the difference each pound donated makes, up to the value of £5 million, as part of UK Aid Match.